Professor Jane Kelsey on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Interviewed by Tim LynchDecember 22, 2010
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What are its affects?

The TPPA would be an agreement that guarantees special rights to foreign investors. If these negotiations succeed they will create a mega-treaty across 9 countries that will put a straight jacket around what policies and laws [NZ] governments can adopt for the next century think no GM labelling, overriding our Laws on foreign investment, shackling PHARMAC, increasing price of medicines, no regulating info on cigarette packs, and not regulating dodgy finance firms, less NZ content on TV, private prisons, privatising education, land acquisitions, mining, fishing, high rise hotels at NZ beaches?

As the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have been completed in Auckland, an alliance of civil society groups in participating countries have announced a release the text” campaign ahead of the next round of talks in February 2011 in Chile.

The co-ordinated campaign aims to mobilise central and local government lawmakers, civil society organisations and ordinary citizens to demand an end to the shroud of secrecy around the negotiations.

The negotiators themselves say this is not an ordinary free trade agreement. It would reach deep behind the border into the realm of domestic policy and regulation, super-imposing enforceable constraints over decisions for which our elected parliaments and local councils are currently responsible.”

If this TPPA really is so good for us, why are they scared to release the draft text and open it to scrutiny?There are now draft texts on the table on financial services and investment, and possibly more. Negotiators have flatly refused to release them at any stage in the negotiations, claiming there is no precedent in a free trade negotiation.

It is nonsense to claim that releasing draft texts is unprecedented. All nine countries are Members of the WTO, which now routinely posts country position papers and draft texts in progress on its website.

The New Zealand government itself recognised in its paper on IP, leaked earlier in the negotiations, that groups are acutely aware of what they see as secret negotiations to strengthen IP rights under FTAs and other international instruments. After repeated leaks of the draft texts, the parties to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations eventually released them for public scrutiny.

We are repeatedly told this is a 21st century agreement; yet the secrecy that surrounds it is redolent of the Star Chamber. We would never tolerate such a blatant rejection of transparency and accountability in our domestic legislation, so why here?

If this TPPA really is so good for us, why are they scared to release the draft text and open it to scrutiny?, asked Professor Kelsey.

The challenge then is for Parliament to convene an inquiry before the process has reached the stage where irreversible commitments have been made where we can test out the arguments for and against a TPPA and New Zealanders, including MPs, can know what we are signing up to for the next century.
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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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