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Wikileaks Exposes Government Duplicity on TPP

19 December 2010

For immediate release

Critic Calls for Honesty after Wikileaks Exposes Government Duplicity on TPP

“The government should stop its propaganda campaign to sell the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement to unsuspecting New Zealanders and tell them what it has told the United States government itself,” said Professor Jane Kelsey, author of a book of academic essays critical of the proposed deal.*

US diplomatic cables that reveal the views of New Zealand’s lead negotiator Mark Sinclair are included in Wikileaks documents analysed by Nicky Hager in today’s [19 Dec] Sunday Star-Times.

As recently as February this year, New Zealand’s own chief negotiator Mark Sinclair conceded to US officials there was little in a TPP Agreement for New Zealand. The only real “pay-off” was a remote long-term prospect to “put the squeeze” on Japan and Korea to stop protecting their agricultural markets.

Sinclair reportedly pointed to “a public perception that getting into the US will be an ‘El Dorado’ for New Zealand's commercial sector. However, the reality is different.’”

Professor Kelsey observed that this “false perception” has been scripted by the government itself.

“When our book was released, the Prime Minister and private sector cheerleaders peremptorily dismissed the same kind of criticisms that officials have voiced behind closed doors.”

“The cable confirmed that US firms have our GM regulations, restrictions on foreign ownership of land and mineral resources, and intellectual property laws, including Pharmac, squarely in their sights.”

A second set of cables from 2004 analysed by the New Zealand Herald show the US diplomatic post has been working with its pharmaceutical companies to undermine the world-leading Pharmac drug purchasing regime that makes medicines affordable to New Zealanders, claiming this would enhance New Zealanders’ access to health care.

The cable suggests the US drug industry helped foment the furore over Herceptin and Alzheimers medicines as part of campaign to “fire up pressure from below”.

“The cable confirms that ‘US Big Pharma’ will use a TPPA to target Pharmac and other intellectual property laws”, said Professor Kelsey.

“Equally worrying is the revelation that officials saw the extension of patent terms, which would increase medicine prices, as bargaining chips if the US agreement to negotiate FTA.”

“In the February 2010 discussion with US officials, negotiator Mark Sinclair talks about “managing” New Zealanders’ expectations from a TPPA.”

“That’s not good enough. It is time the government came clean to Kiwis that it sees no tangible gains from a deal and justify why it is continuing with negotiations that have potentially serious costs for our health system, consumer laws, ultimately for our sovereignty”, Professor Kelsey said.

ENDS

* No Ordinary Deal. Unmasking the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement, Jane Kelsey, ed, Bridget Williams Books, 2010.

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