New Study on Hong Kong Trade Deal - ARENA
Action, Research and Education Network of Aotearoa (ARENA)
17 April 2001
This evening, Helen Clark announced the beginning of formal negotiations for a free trade agreement with Hong Kong. It has been in "exploratory talks" for some months, and is expected to move quickly now, using the Singapore agreement signed last year as a model.
ARENA (Action Research & Education Network of Aotearoa) has published a study by Bill Rosenberg entitled: "Globalisation by Stealth - The proposed New Zealand-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement and investment"
An outline follows.
The paper and a summary are available on the web site http://canterbury.cyberplace.org.nz/community/CAFCA
Alternatively, the paper is available from ARENA in book form for $10: contact
ARENA Action Research & Education Network of Aotearoa P O Box 2450 Christchurch Phone: (03) 381 2951 Fax (03) 3668035 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
With a preface by Jane Kelsey, the study looks at the investment relationships between Hong Kong and New Zealand. It uncovers multi-billion financial transfers to New Zealand for "tax minimisation purposes". The strange "intermediary" relationship Hong Kong plays with China is analysed; again avoidance of taxes and tariffs are primary drivers. It finds that -
The New Zealand and Hong Kong governments have been engaged in "exploratory talks" with the aim of negotiating a free trade and investment agreement (FTIA).
Though the government has failed to release any details of what is proposed to the public, this paper finds that if such an agreement is based on the recently ratified Singapore-New Zealand Closer Economic Partnership (SNZCEP), an existing Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA), and the WTO, it presents the following dangers to New Zealand, among others:
Destruction of the remaining textiles, clothing and footwear industry
Litigation by investors in closed international tribunals against the effects and existence of laws and regulations that protect our environment and economic development, resulting in multi-million dollar compensation payments and possible reversal of local and central government policies.
Further pressure to commercialise our social services such as education, health, public broadcasting, waste disposal and water.
Further constraints on the use of central and local government procurement to encourage economic development.
Growing constraints on local government in all these areas.
Encouragement of large short term international capital movements, and further loss of the control of capital movements and foreign investment which are essential to develop New Zealand's economy and protect ownership of land and fishing quota.