Let Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement collapse

Prime Minister John Key says that New Zealanders still want the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. He believes that if New Zealand made concessions, it would demand ones that would benefit  this country. But with hostility growing to it both here and abroad, Mr Key’s thinking could be becoming the exception rather than the norm.

There are a number of credible reasons why this is not something New Zealand should be a part of, and why it should be allowed to fail:

  1. This is not a Free Trade Agreement – it does not take 6,000 pages of text to remove barriers to trade
  2. This is not even a trade agreement – the estimated benefits to the dairy industry for example, will result in less than 1% additional growth in the economy
  3. If it is good for New Zealand, why is it attacking our sovereignty by permitting large corporations, some of whom have revenues as big as our total G.D.P., to sue the Government for passing laws that they do not like?
  4. The Government has never satisfactorily demonstrated its willingness to protect Pharmac, the medicine purchasing agency that acts on behalf of the Ministry of Health
  5. Until we know how it will treat the Treaty of Waitangi settlements no New Zealander who does not want decades of progress to be undone would want this to be advanced

Other countries such as Japan are making significant demands that no one seems to be complaining about. American politicians are still talking about protectionist measures. Whilst these countries are refusing to expose their economies to the Trans Pacific Partnership, why should small countries like New Zealand do so?

The lame duck session of Congress caused by the Presidential contest means that the available time to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership into law in the United States is significantly diminished. Depending on who wins on 8 November 2016, the T.P.P.A. faces an uncertain future. On its own, this is not enough to justify supporting Mr Trump for President of the United States, but it is useful to know that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement would be killed outright should he win. Assuming it was not just a publicity stunt to stymie Hillary Clinton. With Mrs Clinton, it might still pass, but a fanatically hostile Republican opposition may prefer her destruction as a credible President to even the slightest show of bipartisanship.

Should the T.P.P.A. manage to survive to be passed into law in the United States, does not necessarily mean it will or should become law here. New Zealand goes to the polls in or before November 2017. History does not generally favour four term peace-time Governments – Keith Holyoake being the exception. If National win and A.C.T. and United Future survive, the T.P.P.A. will pass into law unless New Zealand First gain enough votes to become a king maker. The Greens steadfastly oppose it.

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