TPPA Facts

Democracy

The TPPA is a ‘trade’ deal that has been negotiated in secret by New Zealand, the US and ten other countries for the past 5 years. During that time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) have been the lead negotiators on behalf of all New Zealanders. This page looks at the processes behind New Zealand signing up to the TPPA and asks whether that process has been democratic.

FOUR WAYS THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS OF TPPA HAS BEEN QUESTIONABLE:

➜ It was negotiated in secret and all supporting negotiating documents are still secret

There is no Parliamentary debate required to ratify the TPPA into law. Only Cabinet is needed to pass it.

The only formal analysis of the pros and cons of the deal is conducted by the lead negotiators and approved by the National government.

Public submissions to Select Committee will only be accepted after the deal has been signed.

WHO'S GONNA CALL THE SHOTS?

(Hint: Probably not us )

The TPPA takes away our democratic right to decide our own laws and policies in ways that best serve the national interest. It was negotiated in secret and there has been zero public input into the draft text of the agreement.

ONCE SIGNED, DECISIONS CAN BE MADE FOR US WITHOUT US

The TPP commission is the body that supervises compliance to the TPPA. The commission can extend the initial TPPA obligations to ensure that the TPPA is a "living agreement". Decisions are made by consensus, and if a country is absent, they are bound by the decisions made by the working group, even if they would have objected. There is no provision for proxies.

THERE IS NO INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT, WITHOUT VESTED INTERESTS IN THE TPPA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) are the government body responsible for improving export opportunities, they are specialists at that, which is a worthy endeavour. But if you read the headings of the chapters in the TPPA, it becomes clear this deal impacts much more than just trade. Headings like: State-Owned Enterprises, Government Procurement, Intellectual Property and Telecommunications indicate this deal is far-reaching and will impact all aspects of our society.

MFAT are also the organisation tasked with conducting the ‘National Interest Analysis’ (NIA) which considers the advantages and disadvantages of New Zealand entering into the TPPA. No other official government body or ministry conducts any official oversight or analysis of the agreement. Their lens is purely about economic advantage, and doesn’t look at important issues for New Zealanders like maintaining a healthy democracy or protecting our nation’s access to affordable medicines - both of which are compromised by the deal. The NIA is then approved by the National government.

What this means in practice is that the NIA is not an independent or comprehensive review of the pros and cons of TPPA for New Zealand, despite it being the only formal analysis process we have.

The US will withhold New Zealand’s certificate of compliance with the TPPA until the US is satisfied that all changes it requires to New Zealand's domestic laws, policies and practices have been made.

What this means in practice is that a new US administration (e.g. a Trump presidency) can renegotiate the agreement or add new terms and conditions using side-letters (a process with no public oversight or input).

If a country signs the TPPA but does not immediately ratify (i.e. make the TPPA part of domestic law) then that country may be required to make further concessions before certification. These concessions can be provisions not even mentioned in the trade agreement text.

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In order to be included in the TPPA, we are beholden to the will of the United States.

What's the price to be in the club?