Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Alert: Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement

Forwarded on behalf of GATT Watchdog

Dear friends,

Below you will find a form letter prepared on behalf of GATT Watchdog and CAFCA which can be adapted and sent to Alliance and Labour MPs, party branches and officials, but also cross-posted on websites (with these introductory notes). With the Labour Party conference coming up in just over a week, and with the news that the government intends to pursue a free trade agreement with Hong Kong, we urge you to act quickly on this. We suggest you send by ordinary mail or email to MPs at Parliament Buildings, Wellington - (it's free!)

Please send us copies by separate email to or by mail to PO Box 1905, Christchurch.

Please repost this message and urge others to act.

GATT Watchdog

______________________________________________________________

(Your Name)

(Address)

(Date)

Dear

In 1997-98, public outrage led to the defeat of the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) which would have given unprecedented powers to transnational corporations. Yet actions by this government threaten to achieve many similar aims piece by piece. This is despite both the Alliance coalition partner and the Greens, on which the government's existence depends, having campaigned strongly against such policies.

The few controls on foreign investment that remain are being weakened step by step. Major overseas takeovers continue. Fletcher Paper and Air New Zealand are just two since the Labour/Alliance government took power.

I am very concerned that there has been no action to strengthen the feeble controls that are still in place. There are no "national interest" criteria for the great bulk of foreign investment where no significant land or fishing quota is involved. We need to regain the ability to choose investment that suits us, and we need stronger 'good character' laws for foreign investors.

The trigger point for investments to require Overseas Investment Commission approval was raised from $10 million to $50 million by the outgoing National Government, and nothing has been done to reverse that.

In fact, the Singapore "Closer Economic Partnership" cements that in. It commits us to opening even further to foreign investment over the next few years, particularly in the services sector where important social services such as health and education will eventually be affected. On top of that it strips us of the ability to reinstate international capital controls.

I am concerned that this is only the start. There are investment liberalisation agreements that were negotiated by the previous government with Chile and Argentina in 1999, which have MAI-like "expropriation" clauses that would allow investors to force the government to pay compensation, or even revoke laws, if environmental or social measures reduce their profitability. These need only Cabinet approval to go into effect. They have never been opened to public consultation or Parliamentary debate.

The government has announced negotiations with Hong Kong on a similar agreement to that with Singapore. It has committed itself to developing a wider version of the Singapore and CER agreements with the whole of South-East Asia, through negotiations headed by Bill Birch. It has talked about new free trade and investment agreements with Chile and the U.S.A. It supports opening more services to foreign investment through the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) under the WTO, and there are proposals for other investment agreements there too.

I therefore strongly urge you to

· Oppose the Singapore agreement and any consequent legislation

· Gain an assurance that Cabinet will not approve the investment agreements with Chile and Argentina

· Oppose further work on the proposed agreements with Hong Kong and South-East Asia, and other similar agreements

· Support democratisation of the treaty approval process, including releasing drafts of proposed agreements during negotiations so the public can debate them properly.

· Work for a moratorium on further agreements and commitments under the WTO until an independent review has been made of the effects of previous agreements and the public have had an opportunity for a wide-ranging and informed debate on these issues.

The world's political climate has changed radically with the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the Seattle debacle and the numerous demonstrations, critical reports and studies that have followed. Though changes in domestic policies recognise the failure of previous approaches, New Zealand's international economic policies seem not to have taken any notice of the sea-change that has occurred.

Rather than continue to follow the previous government's international free market policies, which are completely at odds with the new government's opposition to free market policies at home, New Zealand needs to manage its economic relationship with the rest of the world. New Zealanders need to have a say in that.

Yours sincerely

Peace Movement Aotearoa the national networking peace group PO Box 9314, Wellington, Aotearoa / New Zealand. tel +64 4 382 8129, fax 382 8173, website Internet Peace Gateway


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Sector Opposes Bill: Local Government Bill Timeframe Extended

The Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has asked the Select Committee to extend the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). More>>

ALSO:

Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>

ALSO:

Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>

ALSO:

General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news