What was the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Pros and Cons of TPP
Visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website for more information on the benefits of the TPP
Information from NZ’s Foreign Affairs and Trade website
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is a free trade agreement that would liberalise trade and investment between 12 Pacific-rim countries: New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Viet Nam.
TPP negotiations were concluded in October 2015 and the Agreement was signed in February 2016.
Signed by the 12 countries on 4 February 2016 in Auckland, the Agreement has not yet entered into force. On 23 January 2017 United States President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum to withdraw the US from TPP. The Agreement as it stands cannot enter into force without the US.
In light of the US withdrawal, representatives from the 11 remaining members met in March 2017 and affirmed the economic and strategic importance of TPP, particularly as a vehicle for regional economic integration. They agreed that senior trade officials would consult over the coming months to consider next steps for the Agreement.
For more details of the current situation visit www.tpp.mfat.govt.nz
Huge Impact on Kiwis
Our government is negotiating an international agreement that could have a huge effect on the lives of ordinary kiwis. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and it involves eleven Asian and Pacific-rim countries, including the United States. If it goes ahead, we risk damage to our innovative economy, our pristine environment, our health, and the ability to shape our own future.
Secret Negotiations and No Public Access
Because the negotiations are being conducted in secret, what we know about the TPPA comes from leaked documents and detective work. This is not acceptable. We live in a democracy, which means we have the right to know what is done in our name and to have a say.
So what’s troubling about the TPPA?
From what we know so far, if the negotiations are completed it will become much harder for the New Zealand government to look after our environment, promote health, protect workers and consumers, and promote the public interest:
- Most restrictions on foreign investment will be frozen and rolled back even further.
- Big overseas companies will be able to sue the New Zealand government for millions in damages in secretive offshore tribunals, claiming that new laws and regulations (for example, a ban on fracking, smoking control laws, or a cap on electricity prices) have seriously undermined the value of their investments.
- Medicines will become more expensive as big pharmaceutical companies gain more influence over PHARMAC, and restrictions are placed on generic medicines.
- Copyright laws will be toughened and more harshly enforced, restricting internet freedom and access to information, costing libraries, schools, and businesses, and stifling innovation.
- Parallel importing will be banned, meaning that New Zealanders, especially the poor, will have to pay far more for all sorts of ordinary products.
- Foreign banks, insurance companies and money traders will gain more powers to challenge laws designed to prevent another financial crisis; and overseas property dealers could contest moves to burst the property bubble, such as a capital gains tax.
Can a company sue if its free trade rights are breached… Watch this space
Plain Packaging of Cigarettes
Australia’s plain packaging law for cigarettes and cigars is challenged
Condensed from an article in theguardian.com, Agence France Presse
Challenge to plain tobacco packaging is crucial test for trade rules
A landmark challenge to Australia’s plain-packaging law for cigarettes and cigars at the WTO could have vast implications for how governments square the rules of trade with radical public health measures.
The case against Australia has been spearheaded by cigar-producing nations Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Honduras, which say brandless packaging is an assault on their trading rights.
World Trade Organisation chief Roberto Azevedo is expected within days to name a three-member panel of independent experts, who will then have six months to issue a ruling on whether Australia is out of line. “Resolution of this dispute is critical because it will go a long way toward indicating whether the WTO will allow countries to take reasonable actions that are intended to protect the public’s health in an equitable and non-discriminatory fashion”, Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, told AFP.
The WTO panel was authorised in late April by a closed-door meeting of its dispute settlement body….
..Australia maintains that because plain packaging treats all players equally, it does not constitute discrimination under the so-called TRIPS agreement covering trade and intellectual property rights.
The argument that the law breaches trademark rules also failed to convince the Australian High Court in a case brought by tobacco firms.Honduras, Cuba and the Dominican Republic say the legislation harms their traditional cigar brands, thereby hurting farmers and hundreds of thousands of cigar-sector employees in the three countries.
But analysts say the case tests the balance between TRIPS rules and measures that government argue are in the public interest, meaning a ruling could open a Pandora’s box of other cases.
29 June 2018 Ruling
The World Trade Organization (WTO) rejected the complaints by four countries that the introduction of plain packaging of tobacco products in Australia violated international trade agreements.
New Zealand and Plain packaging of Cigarettes Packets
Condensed from an article in New Zealand Herald Tuesday 11 February 2014
Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia has kicked off the parliamentary debate on plain packaging of cigarettes with a warning to tobacco companies not to meddle in New Zealand affairs.”I am firmly of the opinion that it is not for any tobacco company to be telling us what we should be doing in our own land.”
Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser said New Zealand had been expecting the possibility of a legal challenge over the tobacco plain-packaging law with or without the Trans Pacific Partnership being negotiated. “Let’s face it, the Australians are in the midst of a legal challenge [over its plain packaging law] and TPP doesn’t exist,” he told reporters at Parliament today. “We are fully expecting the possibility of a legal challenge, TPP or not.” He said the Government could never protect an individual or a future government from the possibility of legal challenge.
“The key thing is to get the legal framework as robust as you can , so we can bat it back because we are very committed to a smoke-free policy [by 2025].”
Like other trade deals, the TPP is expected to include a chapter on investor-state disputes procedures allowing private companies to sue Governments if laws erode the value of a company.
However, it is also expected to have exceptions, including the ability of Governments to make law in the interests of public health.
Mr Groser said he would not negotiate the TPP through the media “but you know the No 1 thing is for the New Zealand Government to ensure is that it doesn’t limit any future New Zealand Government’s ability to legislate on public health.”