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Canadian minister exposes National’s political spin

22 May 2017

For immediate release

Canadian minister exposes National’s political spin on Hanoi TPPA outcome

Prime Minister Bill English and Trade Minister Todd McClay are spinning the outcome of Sunday’s meeting of the eleven remaining countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in Hanoi for short-term electoral purposes, according to University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, who has been monitoring international coverage of the meeting.

Todd McClay is reported in the NZ Herald as saying ‘We are very, very united’. But even he conceded there is no unity about implementing the TPPA before the end of the year, which was the NZ/Japan game plan.

The eleven ministers apparently agreed there needs to be a process – as they did when they met in Chile in March. And they agreed that this process needs to get them to a point they can agree on what to do together, which their leaders can then agree to as well.

‘In other words’, Professor Kelsey points out, ‘there is no agreement among countries on what should happen with the TPPA minus the US.’

Equally important, Bill English told Q&A that ‘there can't be any more changes’, other than some technical adjustments to allow implementation and make it easier for the US to re-join.

But only New Zealand and Japan appear to want the text to remain unchanged.

Canada’s trade minister confirmed to the Toronto Sun that the ministers are still figuring out what a revised trade plan would look like and this would have to be more than simply taking the US out of the deal: each country would have to re-evaluate its own trade needs in the absence of the US.

The Toronto Sun quotes Canadian officials as stressing that ‘even the countries most enthusiastic about the previous agreement understand that it must be significantly altered before it can move forward.’

Bill English said on Q&A on Sunday that getting the TPPA implemented ‘can only happen if there isn't some renegotiation’. But he and Todd McClay know that other countries are demanding significant changes. ‘Why are they misleading New Zealanders by telling them otherwise?’ asked Professor Kelsey.

‘Misrepresenting the reality allows National to deny the need for further debate, including in Parliament, and to depict the opposition parties who are rightly criticising what is being dubbed the “zombie TPPA’ as damaging the national interest.’

‘This seems to be a cynical exercise in spin for short-term electoral purposes, knowing that any revised text would become public well after the election, if at all.’

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