Wednesday, August 13, 2014

More TPPA problems

While everyone is waiting for the news on Nicky Hager's book, we learn of more problems with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The government is holding this out as a free trade holy grail, promising access to America while denying it will sign away our public health system or internet rights to rapacious American corporations. But it turns out that no matter what the agreement actually says, the US can refuse to bring it into force for us until we change our laws to conform with their interpretation of it - allowing them to extract further concessions over the heads of the New Zealand people:

‘Behind the seemingly benign term “certification” hides an extraordinary power that the US is expected to assert if the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is concluded’.

‘Effectively, the US claims the right to decide what a country’s obligations are under a trade and investment agreement and refuses to bring the agreement into force in relation to that country until it has changed its laws, regulations and administrative processes to fit the US interpretation’, Professor Kelsey explained.

Statements from members of US Congress and the US Trade Representative (USTR) suggest prime targets for New Zealand would be our copyright and patent laws, the foreign investment vetting regime, the procedures by which Pharmac operates, and Fonterra’s ‘anti-competitive monopoly’.

‘The other eleven governments are aware of the certification process and many are concerned. But no one has told the public how the US can effectively redraft our laws.’

There's more details on the process here, and it looks appalling. And in Peru's case, the US used certification of a bilateral free trade agreement to redraft Peruvian laws to suit American interests.

Its bad enough when treaties are made in secret without any public input, but this is a step beyond that into pure economic colonialism. If the US wants to use the TPPA to do this we should tell them to go fuck themselves. Free trade is not worth our sovereignty, or our democracy.