Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Gordon Campbell on the alleged gains to NZ from the TPP

Gordon Campbell on the alleged gains to New Zealand from the TPP

by Gordon Campbell

The fog of secrecy around the Trans Pacific Partnership has always triggered concern about what New Zealand may be willing to give away in these talks, without any substantive Parliamentary debate of these concessions beforehand. The potential losses are one thing. Yet on RNZ this morning, Victoria University economist Geoff Bertram put the spotlight on the other side of the ledger, onto the alleged gains that the TPP will bring in its wake - some $5 billion by 2025 according to Trade Minister Tim Groser. Bertram has discovered that the study on which those gains were based appears to be seriously flawed.

Only a quarter of the alleged gains, Bertram told RNZ, stand up to serious scrutiny. To date the government has largely relied on a publication by the Peterson Institute on the benefits of the TPP to participating countries. The Peterson study can be accessed here. Bertram and his associates have examined the basis of the Peterson methodology and found it wanting. As he told Morning Report:

From my point of view, the interesting thing in trying to weigh the costs and benefits up is how much benefit is there. There’s a study produced by the Peterson Institute in 2012 which the government has relied on quite heavily - which gave Tim Groser that $5 billion number - so I went back and spent a bit of time reading that through, and worked out how they got their numbers. And to the conclusion that really, there’s no credibility to most of them..... On foreign direct investment, which is one third of the gains they are promising from the deal, they’ve invented a totally new economic theory...where moving a dollar from the United States to New Zealand doubles its productivity and generates a huge amount of output out of thin air. I don’t believe that proposition would stand up to any sort of serious analytical scrutiny. That’s a third of the gains.

Another third of the alleged gains, Bertram says, come from the removal of regulatory barriers. Yet much of the TPP content, he noted, entails the imposition of stronger regulatory provisions in areas such as intellectual property rights and in patent terms for pharmaceuticals that are likely to impose significant costs. Such provisions underline the unique nature of the TPP. Those in favour of the deal - in government and among parts of the corporate sector - may routinely invoke the rhetoric of free trade to promote the TPP, and depict its critics as being anti free trade. At best, this is naive wishful thinking on their part. Because, as Bertram - and other commentators have pointed out as well - the TPP is not really a free trade deal at all, certainly not in the sense of the China/New Zealand free trade pact. If anything, as Werewolf reported last year in an exclusive interview with the conservative free trade guru Professor Jagdish Bhagwati, much of the TPP runs directly counter to the aims and procedures of the WTO Doha Round. Many TPP provisions are actually trade restrictive protections, in that they re-inforce and extend the existing powers of US corporate interests, and entail trade dispute resolution mechanisms likely to undermine the WTO arbitration system. (Bhagwati was especially annoyed on that point.) As Bertram sums up:

About a quarter of the claims that they [the Peterson Institute] make...I can see where that comes from. Reasonable people can disagree about the details, but their analysis up to that point makes sense and is line with the established literature. Beyond that, there is three or four billion dollars that they’ve plucked out of thin air for New Zealand, and hundreds of billions they’ve plucked out of thin air for the Trans Pacific partners as a whole. I think it's a pity when economic models which are a very elegant and sophisticated way of thinking about very complicated issues, are turned into what is essentially a propaganda device.

Hopefully, the Peterson Institute - who are not normally guns for corporate hire - will respond to Bertram. That way, we may at least get some semblance of the public debate about the TPP and its potential gains and losses to this country, that we are simply not getting in our Parliament.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The West’s Existential Crisis About What To Do With Putin, And The Islamic State

Say one thing for Russian President Vladimir Putin. At least he’s given NATO a purpose in life. Right now, that consists of being something that Barack Obama and David Cameron can hide behind, point at Putin, and say : “Go get him, tiger.” Just what NATO is supposed to do about Putin’s armed advance into eastern Ukraine is less than clear. But there is a lot of “steely determination” around in high places. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The US Foreign Policy Somersaults Over Syria And Iran

Amidst the day-to-day reports about the military advances of the Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, one remarkable aspect of this war has barely been mentioned. More>>

ALSO:

Daphne Lawless: The Whale Oil Leaks: Anti-Politics From Above

As we go to press, the election campaign has been turned upside down by a new book by investigative journalist Nicky Hager. Dirty Politics is based mainly on a leak of 2 gigabytes of emails and Facebook messages from “Whale Oil”, the vicious ... More>>

ALSO:

Branko Marcetic: When John Key Was Concerned About Dirty Politics

If Nicky Hager needs some support in the midst of a whirlwind of government criticism for his allegations of “dirty tricks” by the National Party, he may find one unlikely ally – John Key, six years ago. More>>

Jim Miles: Israeli War Crimes In Gaza

Israel reveals its true colours and true aspirations every time it attacks Gaza (or any other self-perceived enemy) as being the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, even to the degree - as the references above indicate - to the act of genocide. More>>

David Swanson: Top 9 Reasons To Stop Bombing Iraq

1. It's not a rescue mission. The U.S. personnel could be evacuated without the 500-pound bombs. The persecuted minorities could be supplied, moved, or their enemy dissuaded, or all three, without the 500-pound bombs or the hundreds of 'advisors' (trained ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Comedian’s Death: Robin Williams And The Virtues Of Suicide

The Grim Reaper never runs out of converts. Put another way, death never gets his full due. Comedians do not figure well in this – they are particularly attractive targets in the business of death. More>>

Suzan Mazur: "Oomph" & Origin Of Life At Hydrothermal Vents

The notion that life originated in hydrothermal vents was for a long time a sleepy area of scientific inquiry because the vents first found, known as 'black smokers,' were way too hot and acidic. But in 1989, Michael Russell, a British geochemist who ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news