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Scene set for quick and dirty trade-offs on TPPA

2 December 2013

For immediate release

Scene set for quick and dirty trade-offs on TPPA in Singapore next weekend

‘Last month any deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement seemed near impossible’, according to Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey.

‘Now we are told the trade ministers from the twelve countries seriously believe they can make the key decisions when they meet in Singapore from 7 to 10 December and close the deal by the end of the year.’

‘If this really is the end game, as they claim, an outcome can only be the product of quick, dirty, and dangerous compromises, principally by countries other than the US’, Kelsey warned. ‘New Zealand, which does not already have a free trade agreement with the US, will come off worst’.

Before the intense negotiating round in Salt Lake City two weeks ago there was a huge chasm between the US and other countries on the most controversial issues. The leaked intellectual property text from August, posted by Wikileaks, exposed the extreme US demands on medicines, copyright and the Internet. The chapters on state-owned enterprises and environment were in disarray. Other issues, from agriculture markets and foreign investors’ rights to sue governments to preventing financial crises and data privacy, were unresolved.

Some of these issues were settled in Salt Lake City. Most were not. That means a very long list of trade-offs is being put before the Ministers for decisions in Singapore.

‘It seems incredible that any trade minister would be so reckless as to put their cards on the table, let alone agree to trade-offs, when the US cannot guarantee to deliver, and has a history on demanding further concessions even with Fast Track’, Kelsey said.

Ironically, not having Fast Track gives the US even more leverage. The ministers know they have to give the US what it needs to steer a deal through Congress.

Professor Kelsey predicted that, if the politicians break through the seemingly impossible obstacles, they will leave a trail of concessions and controversy in their wake, spun with claims of massive gains and minimal or no costs.

‘Who can authoritatively gainsay such claims when no one outside government and privileged corporate interests has access to the text? That leads back to the now widely supported demand: release the text before any decisions are made.’

ENDS

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