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TPPA Bulletin #87, 4 May 2016
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Current Situation on the TPPA

As expected, the Select Committee process on the TPPA was a sham. The report is due to be released today (4 May), only 3 days after hearings finished and almost a month before the planned date. There will be a minority report from political parties that don’t agree with the government-controlled Committee. It is already clear that the report will not reflect the weight of evidence provided by over 3,000 submitters and 330 people who gave oral presentations. The vast majority were from individuals and groups deeply critical of the TPPA. Thanks to all those who courageously gave evidence, many for the first time. It is important that we use the processes of democracy, even if they are deeply inadequate and frustrating – otherwise they will be subverted by others.

The government is rushing the process through in order to undermine the Waitangi Tribunal report, due out any day now, and to get the TPPA out of the spotlight before the 2017 election. But it is not clear that there will be a TPPA implemented for years to come, if ever. Ratification of the TPPA is in deep trouble in the US, where both of the likely Presidential candidates oppose it.

The outgoing US administration is becoming desperate, talking about trying to pass the TPPA during the ‘lame duck’ period after the election and before the new President takes office. Even by US political standards, that would be deeply cynical and undemocratic given the public opposition to the TPPA that has been evident during the Presidential primaries. The US government has also sent its officials, and representatives of big pharmaceutical companies to change the TPPA final agreement, in order to give even stronger patent protection and more opportunities for profiteering from expensive drugs, such as Keytruda.

The TPPA is also meeting opposition in Japan, where ratification has been delayed until later in the year at the earliest, and in Australia, where an election is looming. Yet our government seems determined to push the TPPA through Parliament quickly, ignoring proper democratic process, whether or not the TPPA will ever come into force.

On Monday 9 May, the government will introduce legislation to implement the TPPA and will hold the first reading of the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Amendment Bill’ on Thursday 12 May. The Select Committee will call for submissions and hold hearings. This is likely to be the stage where business lobbyists try to ensure the rules are to the advantage of big companies and further marginalise the public interest.

Even if it is ratified, the TPPA will not come into force until late 2017 or early 2018. There will be a New Zealand election in late 2017, and an opportunity to reject the TPPA before it comes into force. We need to keep up pressure on all political parties so that the TPPA will be rejected in the election.

 
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Negotiations on the RCEP, an even bigger international agreement than the TPPA (covering 48% of the world’s economy), has been slow but now appear to be gearing up. The RCEP involves ten ASEAN member states and the six countries that have existing trade agreements with ASEAN; Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, China and South Korea. New Zealand has a trade agreement with all the countries except India.

It was thought that the protections for ASEAN countries to retain policy flexibility may make the RCEP less threatening than the TPPA, but leaked documents give cause for concern. An analysis of the Intellectual Property Rights provisions raises similar concerns to the TPPA http://www.madhyam.org.in/rcep-could-limit-access-to-medicines/. A quick review of the investment chapter reveals that there are proposals to include many of the same problematic provisions as are in the TPPA, such as Investor State Dispute Settlement.  Jane Kelsey is leading analysis of the implications for New Zealand of the intellectual property rights chapter and the investment chapter.

New Zealand will host the 13th round of the RCEP trade negotiations in Auckland from 12-18 June 2016 (probably in Sky City again). According to Trade Minister Todd McClay there will be “opportunities for stakeholders to present views.” His Press Release is here.

There will be public events planned around the time of the negotiations, including a visit by Jomo Kwame Sunaram, a leading economist, former senior United Nations official and critic of the TPPA.


 
Take Action Now!

A successful rally of over 150 people, including MPs Kennedy Graham and Fletcher Tabuteau, was held in Wellington at 12pm today on 4 May. TPP - Let the People decide: Rally for a Binding Referendum. https://www.facebook.com/events/223390101362584/
 

Sign the petition to the Governor-General. Following the handover of initial signatures on a petition to the Governor-General, calling for him to withhold his assent for ratification of the TPPA, the petition has been re-launched. Please download the petition here and build pressure for him to act.
 
Sign the petition calling on the government not to ratify the TPPA. The petition, hosted by our partner ActionStation, is up to 54,000. Please Sign Now!
 
Declare your space a TPPA Free Zone. You can declare your home, neighbourhood, community centre, school, workplace, bike or car as a TPPA Free Zone. Download signs and materials, stickers and T-shirts, and join Facebook for ideas for action.

Target the media. The mainstream media is giving the impression that the TPPA is a done deal. That’s not true. It is in trouble in the US, under threat in Canada and we will stop the TPPA before it comes into force in New Zealand, at the General Election if not before. It ain’t over, and we are winning the hearts and minds of Kiwis. Let the media know!

 
Gearing up the TPPA campaign


There are some great campaigns and actions happening around New Zealand, but consultations with TPPA groups across New Zealand has suggested that we need high profile actions to involve supporters, so planning is starting around three key events:

·        A national day of action against corporate takeover of our rights, and in support of reclaiming our democratic rights, with actions to take place in as many communities as possible across New Zealand, building links with our allies on climate change, tax havens, privatisation, te Tiriti and citizen’s rights (July/August?). The idea is combining protest with a creative festival that has a positive message of what we value and want to protect, around a theme of reclaiming our democratic rights.

·        A campaign targeted at local elections, to ask candidates for Councils and DHBs across New Zealand where they stand on the TPPA so voters can make their choices – in the run-up to elections on 8 October

·        A massive rally in Wellington, as a call to stop the ratification process in Parliament. Kiwis concerned about the TPPA will be encouraged to converge on Wellington from across the country, by hikoi, relays, buses, trains, bikes and even by car. We will set a date when we know more about the timing of the legislation.

More to come in the next Bulletin. Your feedback, suggestions and especially offers of help on website, design and event organising would be very welcome to itsourfuturenz@gmail.com.

 
Research and Fact Sheets

Expert, peer-reviewed research papers are available on the TPP Legal website, unpacking the legal text of the TPPA and pointing out why it is not in New Zealand’s interests:
·        TPPA process and democracy
·        Investment chapter
·        te Tiriti o Waitangi
·        Environment
·        Economics of the TPPA
·        Local Government
·        Intellectual Property and Information Technology
A simple flyer with a summary of the key facts on a double side A4 is on the It’s Our Future website here (copy it and spread it far and wide to the public), along with a Key Issues briefing and information sheets. And see the ActionStation series of Fact Sheets on different aspects of the TPPA.

 
Funding the campaign

We have launched a Give a Little page to fund the speaker tour that was held in February and to build up a fund for a big event later in the year. Please donate generously. 
 
Media

John Key devoted most of his speech on international affairs to the TPPA, making the usual insulting arguments that being against the TPPA is like being against all forms of trade and any contact with the outside world http://itsourfuture.org.nz/pms-speech-to-nz-institute-of-international-affairs/

Key launches a charm offensive on the TPPA http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11632898

It’s our Future campaign in Wellington today calls for a binding referendum http://itsourfuture.org.nz/stop-tpp-movement-renews-call-for-binding-referendum/

The Medical Association says that the costs of health care will rise http://www.newshub.co.nz/politics/tpp-to-push-costs-up---medical-association-2016042713#.VyEy7RJHdWU.twitter

Outrageous lobbying from the big pharmaceutical companies implies a threat to the continued supply of medicines to New Zealand. Even the Trade Minister is appalled. http://itsourfuture.org.nz/no-reason-big-pharma-would-stop-supplying-medicines/

Jane Kelsey challenging the US implementation team for ‘meddling’ in New Zealand, and trying to re-negotiate the TPPA for even more patent protection http://itsourfuture.org.nz/why-is-the-us-tppa-implementation-team-meddling-in-nz/

Leaks of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/ttip-leaks-shocking-what-are-they-eu-us-deal-a7010121.html

Analysis of the ISDS mechanism in the TTIP shows no net benefit http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/ttip-uk-government-only-did-one-assessment-of-trade-deal-and-found-it-had-lots-of-risks-and-no-a6999646.html

Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders responses to a questionnaire about their opposition to TPPA http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/pennsylvania/2016/04/19/clinton-and-sanders-get-specific-on-trade-before-the-pa-primary/

 
Select Committee hearings

A full list of submissions is here. Some speeches and submissions to the Select Committee:
·        Dr. Jane Kelsey
·        Gen de Spa speech
·        Josie Butler speech
·        Greg Rzesniowiecki submission
·        It's Our Future oral evidence and submission
·        ActionStation petition
·        NZ CTU submission:  
·        Public Health Association submission

Democratic process abused by the Select Committee http://itsourfuture.org.nz/democratic-process-on-the-tppa-abused-yet-again/


Select Committee process rushed to undermine Waitangi Tribunal report http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1604/S00251/government-seeking-to-stymie-report-on-tppa.htm
 
The Campaign continues…

Thanks for all of those who engaged with the Parliamentary process during the Select Committee hearings. It was great to see so many submissions and presentations (far more than in the parallel process in Australia!). The government is pulling out all the stops to try to sell the TPPA. But it’s not working. The public realises that it’s not in New Zealand’s interests. Now we need to crank up the pressure.

Kia kaha
Barry Coates
It’s Our Future spokesperson
Itsourfuturenz@gmail.com
www.itsourfuture.org.nz   

 

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