On Tuesday New Zealand time, U.S. Senators voted on legislation being promoted by President Barak Obama which would enable the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement to be fast tracked through Congress.
President Obama has actively pushed the T.P.P.A. as being good for the American worker. He has said that it would be good for trade opportunities. However, despite numerous warnings by Democrat senators that the text of the proposed agreement needed to be made public, Mr Obama refused to allow its release.
The Senate disagreed and by a vote of 53-44, it was stalled. The no vote included Bernie Sanders, an Independent senator in Vermont and Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat senator in Massachusetts. Mrs Warren and Mr Sanders have waged a consistent campaign against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, saying that it paid insufficient attention to environmental and human rights concerns, would harm the ability of America to create jobs for its citizens and raise issues to do with American sovereignty. The yes vote included nearly all of the Republican senators, many of whom despite their dislike for the presidency of Mr Obama
What does this mean for New Zealand?
When I woke up this morning and read this, I was a happy man for some very good reasons:
- The failure of the T.P.P.A. in the United States makes it much harder for the Government to promote it in New Zealand as being suitable
- It buys the opposition to the T.P.P.A. here some valuable time and makes the New Zealand First Bill before the House of Representatives that was introduced by Fletcher Tabuteau more credible
- People will start to question why it is supposedly so good for New Zealand when the U.S. Senate disapproved
Now, I am not at all opposed to trade. Nations must develop and exchange goods, knowledge and services. However any such agreement as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement that cannot be subject to scrutiny by the public and elected officials without fear of punishment raises justifiable questions about its true intent.
No nation should ever surrender its sovereignty. How much sovereignty we might have surrendered under the T.P.P.A. I don’t know, but because the agreement was not open to scrutiny, it was not an agreement that one should have any confidence in.