At a Glance: What is the TPPA?

  • 06/10/2014

  • This article was published in 2014. For updated information on what the Trans-Pacific Partnership is all about, click HERE.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a proposed regional free trade deal between 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Negotiations began in 2005 and were supposed to be concluded in 2012, but some issues have been so contentious the parties have not been able to agree. The most recent round of highly secretive talks took place in July in Ottawa, Canada.

Frequently asked questions about the TPPA:

Which countries are involved in negotiations?

New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, United States, Vietnam, Mexico and Canada.

What are the benefits of the TPPA?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) says the agreement will "deepen economic ties between its diverse members by opening up trade in goods and services, boosting investment flows, and promoting closer links across a range of economic policy and regulatory issues.

Five of New Zealand's top 10 trading partners (Australia, the US, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia) are involved in TPP negotiations. The East West Centre says the deal could increase New Zealand's GDP by US$2 billion (0.9 percent) by 2025.

MFAT says New Zealand exporters will benefit from the reduction of tariffs and compliance costs and the opening of more opportunities in overseas markets, for example the ability to pick up government contracts.

Only some sections of the text of the agreement have been made public through document leaks, so much of the TPPA's substantive content remains unknown.

What kind of opposition has TPPA received?

Several thousand people from around the country protested against TPPA in March. In Auckland, the protest started in Aotea Square with speeches, before the protesters moved down Queen St to the US Consulate General's office holding placards saying "New Zealand is not for sale" and "TPPA = Death to Democracy".

Former Green Party leader Jeanette Fitzsimmons told the New Zealand Herald the TPPA is a dangerous initiative.

"At the heart it is a huge lie which pretends this is about trade," she said. "It's not about trade, it's about allowing foreign corporations to override the decisions of democratically elected governments."

"The fact that it has a specific clause in it to allow investor corporations to sue our Government if it takes any actions which reduces their profits ... that is the most anti-democratic thing that has ever happened in my lifetime."

Introducing the TPPA would mean medicines will become more expensive as pharmaceutical companies get more power, according to the It's Our Future (IOF) website.

The website claims large foreign companies will also be able to sue the New Zealand government for millions of dollars in damages in "secretive offshore tribunals" – arguing that new regulations have "seriously undermined" their investment values.

Foreign finance companies and banks will potentially be able to "challenge laws designed to prevent another financial crisis", while overseas property dealers could "contest moves to burst the property bubble", IOF says.

There have been questions over why the Government is not releasing the TPPA document text to the public.

Malaysia said in February it will release the draft text to enable "detailed scrutiny and public debate" before any final agreement is signed.

University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey followed up by saying for years Malaysia was treated as "suffering a severe democratic deficit" compared to countries like New Zealand.

"It puts us and other so-called advanced democracies to shame with its relative openness on the TPPA."

The Labour Party has this year also joined calls for the Government to release the full text.

In a statement posted on the party's website earlier this year, a spokesperson says citizens of countries that will potentially be part of TPPA, have been "disturbed" by apparent leaks of some parts of the agreement's draft text.

"New Zealand must not sacrifice cheaper medicines through Pharmac, or give up our sovereign right to regulate and legislate for our health, protection of our environment, in ICT and online security and privacy, or in areas including gambling, tobacco and alcohol," the statement reads.

"We must preserve our democratic rights to regulate overseas corporations that operate here."

Newshub.

source: newshub archive