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Bill English’s Plan B for TPPA a political ‘own goal’

Bill English’s Plan B for TPPA a political ‘own goal’ in election year

‘The idea from Prime Minister Bill English that New Zealand and other countries might proceed with Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement without the US is quite bizarre - especially in an election year’, says Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland.

‘Donald Trump would be delighted! US corporations would get the benefit of all the controversial rules on medicine patents, copyright, investment, state-owned enterprises that the US insisted on without the US have to give a single thing in return. Worse, countries that resisted these unprecedented demands for several years would become their new champions.’

‘Bill English suggested this morning that the TPPA was “probably” still a good deal without the US. Seriously? The economic modelling the government relied on to sell the TPPA last year had zero credibility and failed to account for the costs. Take the US out of that equation and any attempt to pitch the agreement as having net benefits to New Zealand is risible.’

‘Trying to sell the unsaleable during an election year would be a major political miscalculation’, Professor Kelsey said. ‘Because the text would be substantively different from the one that National rammed through the New Zealand Parliament last year the new version and a new National Interest Analysis would have to be tabled in the House and referred to the select committee. Not allowing submissions would inflame anti-TPPA sentiments; allowing them would provide a platform to expose the government’s stupidity’.

Kelsey noted that ‘Labour would also have to engage the TPPA in election year, which it is desperate not to do. Winston Peters would be in his element.’

This scenario assumes the other countries can reach the threshold of 85% of GDP to bring the agreement into force. That calculation would apply to the eleven original signatories who remain after the US withdraws its signature later this week.

According to Professor Kelsey, a TPPA-11 would require ratification by Japan, Canada and Australia, as well as either Mexico (86.6% of GDP) or four of the other larger countries (Malaysia, Singapore, Chile and either Peru or New Zealand) which total just over 85%.

‘Japan has completed its ratification. But the Australian Senate looks like it may reject the deal. The Canadian government has held a prolonged consultation on TPPA while awaiting developments in the US and will now be preoccupied with threats to renegotiate NAFTA.’

Professor Kelsey advised the Prime Minister to think again on whether he really wants to score such an obvious ‘own goal’ in an election year.

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