Golriz Ghahraman: The CPTPP deal undermines Kiwis' best interests

Golriz Ghahraman
Golriz Ghahraman Photo credit: Newshub.

OPINION: We are a small nation. We need trade. But the CPTPP deal undermines democracy - not least by the secret negotiation process, the lack of meaningful consultation, and of course the, until now, secret text.

The Green Party is all for trade that serves the interests of New Zealand as well as the pressing global problems facing our planet. We don't support a deal that marries our nation to a failed economic ideology that the majority of Kiwis voted against.

New Zealand was promised a transformed deal, but as it turned out, that was mostly spin. It's profoundly disappointing to know that the two coalition parties utilised minor changes to reverse their position on this deal, so quickly after the election.  

We now know that even the largest threat to our democracy - the CPTPP clauses that give foreign corporates the right to sue our government to protect their profits - remain the same. The investor state dispute resolution mechanisms (ISDS) in respect of the investment chapter remain exactly the same. This threatens our ability to adopt transformative progressive change in the face of climate change, record inequality, to honour the our founding constitutional document, Te Titiri o Waitangi.

The CPTPP is blatantly not all that much about trade at all. The overwhelming majority sets out the extra rights of these elite foreign investors to be free from government regulation. The e-commerce chapter effectively prevents public oversight of this century’s data driven economy. They get to store their data outside NZ to get around the Privacy Act for example. They get a guarantee that NZ will abstain from regulating all unknown future technologies. Who does that benefit? And how is it necessary to trade?

The environmental and labour protections that are constantly invoked to prove the deal is 'progressive', are all but lip service. Climate change isn't even mentioned and our obligations under the Paris Agreement aren't a consideration.

In fact any mention of labour or environmental protections are not outlined in specific enough legal terms. The environmental chapter for example notes that "transition to a low emissions economy requires collective action". Great. But what does that require? In law, these are soft, unenforceable acknowledgements, and nothing compared to the incredibly detailed, biting and binding language of the investment chapter.

New Zealand should be placing itself among those nations who are seeking to find a fair way to trade without unfair negative implications for people and nature. The EU, for example, will not enter this kind of agreement - its human rights regime and obligations on climate action are binding and sit above any kind of trade deal.

As Green trade spokesperson, I will be working to make sure the CPTPP is the last of its kind. I have been working to introduce change that will require us to make trade fair, require deals like this to be made democratically, transparently, and that they be contingent on our ability to our nation’s interests.

Instead on March 8, we are not signing on to a free trade agreement - we are ceding sovereignty to foreign investors.

Golriz Ghahraman is a Green Party MP.

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