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Government Faces US Lawsuit Floodgates

Rt Hon Winston Peters
New Zealand First Leader
Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs
20 April 2012

Government Faces US Lawsuit Floodgates

New Zealand First says veiled legal threats against the Government’s plans for plain packaging on cigarettes by the tobacco industry is just the tip of a litigious iceberg that US interests will launch under a new trade deal being negotiated.

New Zealand First leader and Foreign Affairs spokesperson Rt Hon Winston Peters says the lawsuit-floodgates could open when the Government ratifies the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) later this year.

“This is just the start of what threatens to be an expensive exercise for New Zealand.
“The TPPA is a free trade agreement between nine countries, but revolves around the US. It empowers multinational companies to sue the New Zealand Government whenever the companies believe their interests are being threatened by government policy.

“It locks in successive New Zealand governments who will forever be glancing over their shoulder as foreign barons circle with multi-million dollar lawsuits glinting in their eyes,’’ says Mr Peters.

The Australian Government is currently involved in High Court action with major tobacco companies after being the first country to introduce tough legislation last year.

Tobacco companies based in New Zealand claim plain cigarette packaging infringes their respective intellectual property rights and would see some of their profits go up in smoke.

“New Zealand First supports measures to cut smoking rates amongst Kiwis but committing to a free trade agreement that sets up the Government as a sitting target for multinationals should not play a part.

“Whether plain packaging is a stupid idea or not, this is about our sovereignty,” says Mr Peters.


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