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Lessons for TPPA

Lessons for TPPA: The US blackmailed Australia to pass a new law overnight

Imagine the New Zealand government does what it thinks is needed to comply with the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Then US Trade Representative Michael Froman tells Trade Minister Groser, “sorry Tim you must rewrite the law to say this, otherwise we won’t let the TPPA come into force.’

Froman sets out the changes he wants, which include provisions the TPPA does not require New Zealand to adopt. Groser agrees. A new Bill is pushed through select committee in twenty-four hours, with three hours notice to make submissions.

In other words, the US rewrites New Zealand’s law and bypasses Parliament as a condition of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement coming into force.

"This scenario may sound totally fanciful. But this is what happened to Australia in the 'end game' of the Australia US Free Trade Agreement in 2004", according to University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey.

A new memorandum published at sets out Australia’s experience, and scathing criticism from the Australian parliamentary library and academics about the assault on democratic processes and Australia’s sovereignty.

Trade Minister Groser’s claim New Zealand would never give in to this kind of US pressure has no credibility, says Professor Kelsey.

“Does the Minister expect us to believe a National government would say ‘no’ to Washington and walk away from their Holy Grail of a free trade deal with the USA? Remember how easily they capitulated to Hollywood’s demands to change the labour laws?”.

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Professor Kelsey says her discussions with TPPA negotiations show that many countries are deeply concerned about certification.

“As the politicians proclaim the “end game” of the TPPA, with plans to finalise their deal at a mid-March ministerial meeting, they need to confront the reality that the US can effectively rewrite any deal they think they have agreed.”

“The first item on their agenda should be to refuse even to engage with the US unless it agrees never to use this form of blackmail against the other TPPA ‘partners’.”


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