INDEPENDENT NEWS

US/NZ Free Trade Agreement - Learn From Experience

Published: Thu 3 Dec 2009 03:34 PM
Chief Reporter
US/NZ Free Trade Agreement
Learn From Sad Experience Of US’ “Chief Ally”.
New Zealanders who kid themselves that “we” stand to gain from a Free Trade Agreement with the US would be wise to reflect on the rueful words of Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s Ambassador to the US in the runup to the US/UK invasion of Iraq. Speaking to the current public Inquiry into Britain’s part in that invasion and war: “Meyer expressed frustration that Britain was unable to gain much diplomatic leverage from its position as the US’ chief ally. Britain failed to persuade the US to liberalise trans-Atlantic air travel and, almost on the day when British commandoes joined the fighting in Afghanistan, the US imposed tariffs on imports of specialised British steel” (Press, 28/11/09). If this is the way that the US treats its “chief ally” when it comes to protecting its own trade and economic interests, how do you think little old NZ will get on?
Prime Minister John Key has already confirmed that NZ “must be prepared to make concessions”, saying that the US will have its own “shopping list... You can’t rule out Pharmac – it’s been on the list before. You can’t rule out issues of intellectual property and investment. All of those things will inevitably be part of the negotiations” (Press, 17/11/09; “Concessions needed for US deal, Key”).
You bet they will have a shopping list and that NZ will have to make concessions. Such an Agreement will (among other things):
• Remove any remaining “restrictions” on foreign investment, as the US regards NZ’s (purely token) oversight regime as “discriminating” against US transnational corporations
• push up the price of medicines by potentially hundreds of millions of dollars a year by attacking Pharmac;
• make access to digital recordings more expensive, and copying more restricted;
• attack our GE controls and food labelling,
• weaken our controls on food imports where they might carry diseases.
We have been warned.
ENDS

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