On Saturday I awoke to news that anti-Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement campaigners such as myself had been hoping for. After months of one step forward two (often quite big)steps backwards, the fight to make the T.P.P.A. either be put on the table for all to see or to be abandoned, negotiators were forced to walk away from the table empty handed.
The negotiators will be back to try to conclude a deal. Have no doubt about that now. They will try possibly everything in the book to get a deal signed and dated.
But some of the nations that showed their true colours were nations that purportedly wanted the deal, not least Uncle Sam himself. The United States, the foremost proponent of the deal showed the colours of hypocrisy like it has unfortunately elected to do so so many times before. The pharmaceutical, the dairy and the banking sectors all insisted that the government sanctioned protectionism of their corporate interests remain in place, all the while demanding concessions that it was not prepared to make of themselves.
For a short while though I shall take delight in the fact that just for the time being, the T.P.P.A. has struck a hopefully significant snag. The breakdown of talks and the growing mistrust of the agreement should hopefully force Mr Groser and Mr Key as well as their international counterparts to reassess how they approach this agreement and whether or not it is even worth it. They say it is, and that opponents just want to kill the deal.
But this war is anything but over. In fact it is intensifying if personal experience is anything to go by. In the last week or so, I have been gagged by TV3 on Facebook, presumably for fear my questioning of the Trans Pacific Partnership would catch on and start something they could not control. So rather than playing the ball – the T.P.P.A. they elected to play me as a person. It is dirty work on their part, but the fact that they elect to censor ordinary people like me suggests a degree of truth in my/our allegations. The fact that Labour, after two years of sitting on the fence whilst the Greens and New Zealand First ratcheted up the pressure on their own in Parliament, decided to act and the fact that a Bill of Parliament was before the House of Representatives should say much for the level of concern that existed.
I cannot really feel sorry for Minister of Trade Tim Groser, though I can only imagine how frustrated he must have been when he got on the plane to leave Honolulu. For him this would have been a significant set back and something he will spend the rest of his career wondering why it came to this. However as the chief New Zealand proponent after Prime Minister John Key of this potentially appalling agreement, he must shoulder the blame for failing to be totally transparent with New Zealand and New Zealanders about what this agreement would do.
However much they failed to be transparent with this country, the war continues. The T.P.P.A. is still a high priority for the Government, as this is probably the last term of Prime Minister John Key in Government – history does not favour four term Governments – and President Obama will want to exit the White House with a trade deal to his name. The longer it stalls, the greater the chance of it being dealt a crippling blow.