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TPPA Gains: $1.7 Billion, $3 Billion – Pick A Number...

5 December 2012
For immediate release
TPPA Gains: $1.7 Billion, $3 Billion – Pick A Number, Any Number ….

“The government seems to be plucking figures out of the air in a rather desperate attempt to claim that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will deliver concrete economic benefits to New Zealand, and justify trade offs that will have serious fiscal and social consequences”, says Professor Jane Kelsey who monitors the negotiations.

Not long ago, Trade Minister Tim Groser said: “Let me put down a marker: I ‘look forward’ with a certain weary sense to the inevitable attempts to ‘model’ the gains from TPP in some econometric model. I am a deep sceptic here.”

Likewise, Wikileaks exposed former lead trade negotiator Mark Sinclair’s view, expressed to a US official, of “a public perception that getting into the US will be an ‘El Dorado’ for New Zealand's commercial sector. However, the reality is different.’”

“Now the government is on the back foot in trying to sell the TPPA, we are seeing the return of that hyperbole”, Jane Kelsey said.

Yesterday the Prime Minister defended the proposed TPPA, saying “forecasts suggest the gains for New Zealand could be as high as 1.4 per cent of GDP, roughly $US2.9 billion ($NZ3.5b).” There is no indication of the source of this projection.

Presumably it was the East-West Centre’s econometric study from October 2011. The study assumed that all 21 APEC countries joined a regional wide agreement in which they largely removed their existing export restrictions, while it ignored any fiscal, economic, social or environmental downsides. New Zealand was mentioned in a single line of two tables and several passing references.

The NZIER’s carefully worded review of the report’s application to New Zealand in May 2012 noted these shortcomings of GCE modeling exercises, concluding that it provided “a good sense of the potential macroeconomic impacts of TPP if the agreement developed along the lines as assumed in the study.”

“But that study projected ‘welfare gains’ of US$1.7 billion. It is not clear how this has grown to $3 billion”, Jane Kelsey observed.

“When you are Prime Minister, maybe you assume that you can pluck figures out of the air. But there is a serious onus on the government to provide a robust costbenefit analysis based on various real world scenarios, which can inform debate about whether the TPP will genuinely foster economic growth and jobs, including the impact on future innovation, and fully cost the trade-offs the government is contemplating in return”.


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