Stop the spread of ISDS, the Trade for All agenda, and a hui in October
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Kia ora tātou

It has been over five months since the Labour Government signed the rebrand of the TPPA, which contains the very same investor rights that are notorious for chilling regulatory measures that advance social objectives such as public health, workers’ rights and environmental protection. Now the Government's pushing legislation through Parliament to ratify the controversial agreement. What comes next?

Submission deadline this Friday – stop the spread of ISDS!
The parliamentary select committee is in the process of examining draft legislation that would change our laws to comply with impending obligations and pave the way for the Government to ratify the TPPA. We have recommended a clause that would prevent a future government from consenting to any additional country joining the controversial agreement without first signing a binding instrument with that country in which it agrees to exclude ISDS against New Zealand.

Please make a submission to the select committee before Friday 17 August in support of an amendment to stop the spread of ISDS beyond the current 11 signatories. Already several countries have expressed interest in joining, so Parliament must prevent New Zealand from backsliding deeper into this discredited system by transforming the anti-ISDS policy of the present Government into a binding commitment under domestic law.

Simply click here and tell the select committee: "I continue to oppose the TPPA, no matter what it is called, and I support an amendment to stop the spread of ISDS."

Thank you to the organisations below that have already endorsed our proposal.

What is the Government’s Trade for All agenda?
Last week the Prime Minister launched the timeline for developing the Government’s Trade for All policy. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the goal is “a trade policy that works alongside other government policies to support sustainable and inclusive economic development”. Consultation runs from 6 August until 14 October, with several public meetings around the country, then an Advisory Board will meet and develop a policy to be announced in June 2019.

Professor Jane Kelsey is sceptical. “Too little, too late,” she says.

TOO LITTLE because there is no indication that the Government intends to make the process for trade negotiations more transparent, and there are so many problematic issues that have not been put on the table:

The monopolies to Big Pharma and the ongoing refusal to conduct health impact assessments during negotiations. The post-election admission that there can’t be an export tax on bottled water, collected for free, even as redress to Māori. Rules that say central and local government can’t spend taxpayer and ratepayer money on locally made goods and services to support local workers and small businesses. The grip that foreign firms and Big Tech have over our economy, jobs, lives and tax base. Fetters on the government’s regulatory space for financial services or public services, especially as the government intends to use more PPPs.”

TOO LATE because MFAT already is up to its eyeballs negotiating large-scale trade and investment agreements that mostly began under the former National Government.

Nonetheless, it is important for us to engage with the consultation process, or else our deep-seated discontent with the TPPA and other anti-democratic economic treaties will not be brought to bear when the Advisory Board develops the final policy. We must continue to exert pressure both in and against the formal process.

To be credible, Professor Kelsey believes that the Advisory Board would need to do five things.

First, treat economic objectives and the walking back of behind-the-border constraints on domestic policy as equally important. Second, engage with Māori as a Treaty of Waitangi partner, not a stakeholder. Third, be truly independent of MFAT. Fourth, have transparency that allows people to see, analyse and challenge what is being done in the name of trade. Lastly, take the critics seriously and be prepared to replace the status quo with a new, inclusive trade agenda.

It's up to us to develop that agenda.

Hui in October – we’ve love to see you!
Mark your diaries for a two-day hui on What a genuinely progressive trade and investment strategy should look like at the Fale Pasifika at the University of Auckland on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 October (the start of Labour Weekend). This will be a forward-looking and agenda-setting hui with lots of panels addressing the issues left out of the Government’s inadequate agenda.

Hopefully it will be streamed for people who cannot be there and people can tweet in questions to the panel facilitators. Bryan Bruce’s new documentary on the price of free trade will also be premiered on the evening of Friday 19 October as part of the hui. More details will follow soon.

So, there is plenty happening. But if the Labour Government has taught us anything, it’s that we cannot count on elected representatives always to act in the interests of people and the planet – especially when elite proponents of the status quo are so well-resourced. We must continue to build popular power, organise a progressive vision for the future, and exert public pressure.

Kia kaha


Spokesperson, It's Our Future

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