Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement stalled

By Numia Ponika-Rangi

The "final" ministerial meeting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) has stalled and everyone is blaming each other in Māui.

New Zealand lawyer Professor Jane Kelsey says the underlying reason for the gridlock is the domestic opposition in almost all the TPPA countries.

It was supposed to be a secret meeting in Māui but because of the groundswell of opposition from TPPA countries and a smattering of leaked information from WikiLeaks, it's far from secret.

According to Professor Jane Kelsey, “These negotiations when they began they decided that they would keep all of the documents secret until the deal is done and once the deal is done they'd release the final text but they'd keep all the rest secret for another four years beyond that, and that's not acceptable.”

What price will Māori pay for a Free Trade Agreement?

Māori may lose rights guaranteed to them under the Treaty of Waitangi and this is the underlying reason for their claim to the Tribunal.

Professor Kelsey says, “The urgency claim that was before the Waitangi Tribunal a week before last, was under a lot of pressure because they were expecting to conclude at this hui that's just been, now that there'll be another couple of weeks hopefully that means that the tribunal will convene the urgent hearing and actually hear the evidence and make some recommendations to the crown.”

Kelsey says the ministerial attempts at a TPPA have failed and they should just give up and come home. She says we know all too well how this government works when it comes to who will benefit in the end and what gains they can get from it.

“The government's not been able to show us what the benefits are gonna be from this deal, all we've had is admissions over the last week that medicines are likely to cost more, that you can't control foreign investors, that foreign investors might sue us, and they say but of course it's all secret and we can't show you what's on the table until it's done, but trust us, and Māori know what the Trust Us means we've had what a hundred and eighty years of it.”

Kelsey encourages all New Zealanders to raise their voices in opposition and to apply more pressure on the government not to sign the TPPA.

“It's really time that the government admits that the costs are going to be greater than any gains, but they're not gonna do that I fear and so it's important to keep up the pressure, not only the pressure for them to walk away, but if they decide to do the deal, pressure that makes it at least bad as it can be, because without the pressure from us who knows what kind of deals they'd do.”