Andrea Vance: Confused about the TPP? Here's five points that cut through the spin


There's been a lot of noise from both sides of the TPP debate, but little in the way of persuasive argument. Our Political Reporter argues the case for what you should know ahead of next week's signing of the free trade deal.

Andrea Vance ONE Voice

Andrea Vance ONE Voice

Source: 1 NEWS

1.  It's good for the economy.

Pretty hard to argue with this one.

The question is how good and does that make it worth the trade-offs? Government analysis estimates the deal will boost economic output by $2.7bn a year by 2030 (that's about 1 per cent of GDP).

World Bank economists say New Zealand stands to gain more than the US from the deal – and would be the fourth largest beneficiary out of the 12 countries who will sign up.  

They are more optimistic and say the boost could be as much as 3 per cent of GDP.

Critics point to the underwhelming gains for dairy – which will be just one per cent of production – or about 100 farms' worth of milk. 

And analysis out of Auckland University notes that these will be nominal in the face of fluctuations in commodity prices and exchange rates.

And it doesn't level the playing field for New Zealand farmers who are still competing with huge subsidies granted to US, Japanese and Canadian farmers.

Also concerning is a recent Tufts University report which predicts that the deal will cost New Zealand up to 6000 jobs, and the share of national wealth going to workers will fall by 1.45 per cent.  

Another downside – we won't see the gains for about 15 years. So if you are an exporter – especially in kiwifruit and wine – the deal is good for you.

People opposed to the trade deal turned out in force in Auckland last night.
Source: Breakfast

Not so much for workers, unless you buy into the "trickle down" effect.

2.  New Zealand must surrender its sovereignty

Well yes, and no.

What's really bothering opponents is that the TPP requires Governments to consider and consult with foreign corporations when they make laws.

Provisions would allow overseas companies to sue for compensation if public-interest policies harmed their profits.

But this isn't the case for unions, environmental groups , human rights activists or other NGOs.

It's worth noting that Governments consult with the public, companies (foreign and domestic), and interest groups when they pass legislation – at the select committee stage.

Also, the flip side, proponents point out these investor state dispute provisions are already written to 13 other trade deals that New Zealand has concluded - and the government hasn’t been sued yet.

This does sound rather like ministers are crossing their fingers.

And the Government has admitted that the pact means future Governments cannot ban foreigners buying property in New Zealand.

The Labour leader says the TPP is cutting across New Zealand’s democratic rights.
Source: Breakfast

3.      The costs of medicines will go up.

Almost certainly. The Government says it will be minimal and they will cover the cost but, as it is taxpayer cash they'll be using, you'll be paying anyway.

4.      TPP cuts across the Treaty of Waitangi

The Government promises (as with all trade deals signed since 2001) there are special protections in the TPP which preserve the treaty's importance - and it doesn't believe the treaty would be subject to those dispute settlement provisions.  

Nevertheless, that doesn't change the fact that Maori feel shut out of the negotiations.

And the Government has been less than forthcoming about the specific gains for Maori under the deal.

5.      Aren't the Americans going to nix it, anyway?


Next week's signing in Auckland is really just a PR stunt, after which countries must go away and convince their legislatures to ratify it. 

With an election looming, the majority of the candidates – both Republican and Democrats – have concerns about the deal.  

It really hangs on whether President Obama can get the deal through in December.

If not, the new US administration will likely look to renegotiate.  

US academic Lori Wallach with a startling perspective on how the trade deal is viewed in the US.
Source: Breakfast

With Canada also making noises about re-negotiating it begs the question, why is New Zealand attempting to pass legislation, if the terms of the deal might change in the near future? 

All this is moot for you anyway.

As with the inter-country negotiations, you have no say on whether New Zealand signs off, or ratifies the deal. 

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