Last night it emerged that Canada had stalled the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement talks. The surprise move not only caught delegates off guard, but raised hopes that the controversial agreement might have been dealt a blow.
For proponents of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, this is alarming news. Former Minister of Trade and a staunch proponent of the agreement Todd McClay went on the record as saying that it was vitally important to restart the agreement talks this weekend and that they needed to be successful or it would collapse. Mr McClay and his predecessors believe it is important for New Zealand to be a part of a 12 nation agreement that would create a large free trade zone across much of the Pacific. Neither he nor his predecessor would address the arguments that the T.P.P.A. is bad for New Zealand. Specifically the following areas:
- That as a result of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (I.S.D.S.) clauses New Zealand Governments could be exposed to legal action by corporations over perceived threats to their ability to make a profit
- That the ability to write laws and uphold and improve our domestic and international obligations might be impeded by a fear of said exposure
- That existing laws might be undermined
For opponents, this could be an early Christmas. Hopes that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement would be killed rose in January when President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order killing America’s involvement in the 12 nation agreement, which then became T.P.P.-11. They were then dented severely when the agreement showed signs of being revived despite Japanese delegates holding steadfast in their demands that Japanese industries not have protective tariffs removed. Hopes took another hit when it was announced that whilst in Vietnam there would be a further attempt to restart the talks that had nearly brought the Agreement to fruition.
Now Canada has suddenly balked. I find the claim that it misunderstood the time schedule for the meetings to be a bit far fetched. But for a moment let us suppose it is true. If true then that is an embarrassment for Canada that a Government minister could not turn up at an agreed time and place, and unfortunate for the anti-T.P.P.A. campaign because it means that the Agreement is still on.
And yet the claim “I didn’t know this was when I was supposed to be here”, coming from a Canadian Government Minister seems just a bit too far fetched to be entirely true. One shall have to give the Minister the benefit of the doubt, but if he is covering up, that raises potentially all sorts of intriguing possibilities.
Time shall tell.