TPPA risk 'exaggerated' – Groser

  • 06/11/2015
 Tim Groser (AAP)
Tim Groser (AAP)

Opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement are being accused of overstating the risks to New Zealand.

The 6000-page legal text of the agreement was released late last night, and critics say it won't mean much to most people because of its complexity.

Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, the TPP's most persistent critic, says an initial review confirms New Zealand will have to comply with "onerous new obligations" under the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) process.

Ms Kelsey says the text of the agreement has blown holes in the Government's previously-released information and the ISDS provisions go far beyond those in New Zealand's existing free trade agreements.

It's one of the most controversial parts of the TPP, and allows multi-national companies to sue governments under certain circumstances when laws are passed that affect their investments.

ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard says issues raised by critics are being overstated.

"In particular, the risk from investor-state dispute settlement provisions has been grossly exaggerated," she said.

"The provisions in the text are not a threat to New Zealand's sovereignty."

The Government has previously said the ISDS provisions are basically the same as those in New Zealand's other free trade agreements.

The lobby Group It's Our Future says the devil is in the detail.

"The Government has used the past month to desperately spin the deal as a saviour of the New Zealand economy, using half-truths and exaggeration to try to paint a rosy picture," said spokesman Barry Coates.

The TPP countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

The agreement is still to be signed and has to be ratified by the US Congress.