TPPA national interest analysis criticised as flimsy and biased

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Journalists interviewing Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, at the Auckland Town Hall last night. Photo: Del Abcede/PMC

Report from Evening Report

By Selwyn Manning in Auckland

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay yesterday released the National Interest Analysis (NIA), a document tasked to examine the pros and cons of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

McClay said on releasing the document that it “comprehensively analyses what TPP means for New Zealand, across the entire agreement”. He added: “It finds that entering TPP would be in New Zealand’s national interest, adding an estimated $2.7 billion to GDP by 2030.”

However, TPPA critics suggest the National Interest Analysis document is far from an independent analysis and is designed to spin the National-led Government’s (and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s) view.

University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey said the formal National Interest Analysis (NIA) on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) released by Trade Minister Todd McClay was simply an expanded version of the so-called “fact sheets” prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), which sought to justify the deal that officials and the National government have negotiated.

“The NIA is a totally predictable cheerleading exercise that talks up the supposed gains and largely ignores the huge downsides of the TPPA,” Professor Kelsey said.

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She added an Australian Senate Inquiry into the treaty making process last year dismissed similar exercises produced by MFAT’s counterparts in Australia as totally inadequate, and called for a genuine independent, in-depth study before as well as after the conclusion of negotiations, including the TPPA.

“The flimsy NIA contrasts to the careful and detailed analysis in five peer reviewed expert papers on the implications of the TPPA that have been produced so far as part of a series supported by funding from the New Zealand Law Foundation,” Professor Kelsey said.  

Member countries of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.
Member countries of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

These expert papers examined the impacts on New Zealand’s regulatory sovereignty, the investment chapter, climate change and the environment, the economics of the TPPA, and the Treaty of Waitangi and are available at tpplegal.wordpress.com. More papers are to come on financial regulation, public services, and IT and innovation.

“If the government wants its assessment of the national interest of the TPPA to be taken seriously it needs to engage with these independent expert papers and attempt to rebut the analyses by which the authors conclude that the deal is not of net benefit to New Zealand, now or in the future,” Professor Kelsey said.

McClay insisted New Zealand has published an “unprecedented amount of information” on TPP.

In a statement yesterday, he said, released information included 10 fact sheets released following the conclusion of negotiations on 5 October. The TPP text was first made public on 5 November, together with additional information on the estimated economic benefit and details of potential costs.

“The government will also be running roadshows for the public to learn more about TPP, and to help businesses prepare for the economic opportunities will bring,” says McClay.

Professor Kelsey, international TPPA expert Lori Wallach of the USA’s Public Citizen and other key public figures talked about the TPPA, the latest research, politics, analysis and actions at a public meeting in the Auckland Town Hall last night.

More information: ItsOurFuture.org.nz

Rousing, inspirational public challenge to the ‘no way’ TPPA deal

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