The TPPA New Zealand’s Democracy
The TPPA New Zealand’s DemocracyChris Perley
The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations are concluded, and have shifted to the next phase - ratification by parliaments.
The government is spinning like a top telling us how wonderful it will be for New Zealand. Forget the figures of $2.7 billion. They are mere guesstimates, and carefully avoid the costs. The Government's negotiated access to overseas dairy markets are continually trumpeted as some sort of economic panacea. They are a delusion to anyone but those with a narrow vision that extends no farther than the commission or the closing of the 'deal'.
They are a delusion because there is no way Japan or Canada want to kill their family farm dairy operations in the interests of industrial production from New Zealand. There are very good economic, environmental and social reasons for that. It’s the same reason the French won’t kill off their rural communities by allowing factory dairy products in, and see the dispossessed move to the slums of Lyon and vote for extremist parties in their despair.
We and the Anglo-American west are about the only countries who think industrial agriculture is a sane approach, and I don’t know why – production of dross with an ever-larger factory, rather than creation of multiple co-values. Other than State Communist collective farms, of course. Now there's a similarity in authoritarian hierarchical thinking worth examining.
And then there’re the increased costs for medicine and the impact on our local communities and businesses – forgotten in the haste to get a dairy deal that will never happen. Other governments are not that naïve.
So what’s it for, this so-called trade ‘partnership’.
Well, they are careful not to discuss that. Trade Minister Tim Grocer won’t mention the fact that only some five out of over 20 clauses deal with trade and the rest are about the investment rights of mega-corporations – including the ability to sue both our central and our local government – that’s you and me.
Here’s what Nobel prize economist Joseph Stiglitz says – "The reality is that this is an agreement to manage trade and investment relations – and to do so on behalf of each country’s most powerful business lobbies."
Bryan Gould argues there is a need for an agreement on managing trade. He thinks – and I agree – that we should look very carefully at the activities of corporate investors across national boundaries to ensure they comply with our laws, protect our people and avoid damage to our environment.
The TPPA does the very opposite. It reverses our democracy. It extends their interests without having to bother to consider ours. We – the people – now have to be mindful of their corporate interests in making our laws – or else.
Or else they can sue. "How dare you reduce our profits for the public good."
It happened when Australia wanted plain packaging on cigarettes. It happened when Egypt wanted to improve labour laws.
If you believe in Adam Smith’s village – local enterprise with no powerful outside exploiters coming in the make our lives worse – then you should be against this ‘deal’.
This deal goes to the core of our democracy. Prof Jane Kelsey issued a challenge to our government that needs to be addressed:
"Who gave the Prime Minister and Trade Minister the right to sacrifice our rights to affordable medicine, to regulate foreign investment, to decide our own copyright laws, to set up new SOEs, and whatever else they have agreed to in this secret deal and present it to us as a fait accompli?"
This is far from over. The dealmakers haven’t disclosed the details – they should immediately – but when they do, expect outrage. The US congress may be our greatest ally.