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


China Could Have Sued Under FTA If Crafar Farm Sale Declined

Monday 30 January 2012

If the New Zealand government had declined the Shanghai Pengxin purchase of the Crafar farm it could have faced an international law suit for breaching its free trade agreement with China, says University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey.

‘When China’s politicians warned New Zealand politicians last year that the agreement was a two way street it is clear they were referring to their rights as foreign investors under the so-called “trade” treaty.’

That view was reiterated in Shanghai Pengxin’s application to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).

The New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement was signed in 2008.

The government cannot treat applications from Chinese investors differently from similar applications from other countries’ investors under what is known as the ‘most-favoured-nation’ or MFN rule.

Shanghai Pengxin’s application pointed to numerous purchases of farmland by investors of other nationalities, and claimed that rejection of its otherwise well-founded application would amount to anti-Chinese discrimination.

Prime Minister John Key admitted on Campbell Live on Friday night that the FTA ‘has in it the most-favoured-nation status that means we can’t discriminate’.

That contradicts paragraph 62 of the OIO advice to ministers that there was no problem under the China FTA in a paragraph that does not address the MFN rule.

‘Presumably the Prime Minister got alternative advice from elsewhere’, Professor Kelsey said. She urged the government to release those documents.

‘The government would have pulled out all the stops to avoid a Chinese investor supported by the Chinese State taking it to international arbitration for breaching the FTA, even if it felt it was on strong legal ground.’

‘Such a dispute would have huge ramifications for New Zealand’s diplomatic and economic relationship with China.’

‘It would also cast a spotlight on the even greater risks of the more extensive foreign investor rights proposed for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a debate that the government is desperate to avoid.’

According to Professor Kelsey ‘the US is demanding much stronger protections for its would-be investors in the TPPA than China secured and the Key government has apparently rolled over and agreed to them, unlike Australia’.

‘The popular angst being channelled towards the Chinese needs to become a more principled opposition to deals that sign the sovereignty of our resources over to foreign corporations and who can sue the government in offshore courts if they don’t get their way.’



© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Labour: Parata Puts Brakes On Charter School Appraisal

“When the Ministry of Education recommended they compare the achievements of children at charter schools to those of their counterparts at state schools, the documents show Hekia Parata specifically prohibited them from doing so." More>>


Bad Day For Universities: Gun, Bomb Threats On Three Campuses

Dunedin Police are continuing their investigation into the threat made against the University of Otago. Staff are following a number of lines of inquiry, and police are working to verify the authenticity and source of the post. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The TPP Deal Reached In Atlanta

Yes, the TPP has helped to knock a few points off the tariffs facing our exporters. Yet some of those alleged dollar gains may well have been made regardless over time – and without the negative baggage of the concessions in the non-trade areas (intellectual property, copyright extensions, investor-state dispute mechanisms etc) that the TPP deal also brings in its wake. More>> (Cartoon by Dave Wolland)

Public Summaries:


Wellington.Scoop: Serco – First The Prisons, And Now It Wants To Run The Trains

As the government continues its inquiry into Serco’s discredited administration of Mt Eden prison in Auckland, here in Wellington there’s further scrutiny of the British outsourcing company – because it’s competing to take over the running of our commuter trains. More>>


Pre-Signing: Gordon Campbell On The TPP Countdown

To date, the Key government has been unwilling to share any information about this TPP deal until it is too late for outraged public opinion to affect the outcome... the disclosure process is likely to consist of a similarly skewed and careful exercise in spin. More>>


Australia Deportations: English Relaxed On Immigration Centre Conditions

Labour's Annette King: “There have been numerous reports from inside these detention centres on just how bad conditions are... If they were being held in any other foreign jail, I imagine Mr English would be somewhat concerned. More>>


Schools: Achievement-Based Funding Would Be A Disaster

The Education Minister’s speech to the PPTA Conference raising the spectre of achievement data driving a new funding system would be disastrous, says NZEI Te Riu Roa. More>>

  • Video Out-Link - PPTA Annual Conference 2015 on Livestream (Q+A dicussion suggests funding would be directed to less successful schools.)

  • ALSO:

    ECE Report:

    Get More From Scoop



    Search Scoop  
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news