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PM's Statement On Trade Significant

Published: Thu 18 Nov 2010 08:30 AM
PM's Statement On Trade Significant
The Prime Minister has unintentionally made a significant announcement on New Zealand's approach to negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Late Monday the Prime Minister was asked whether New Zealand would follow Australia's lead and resist rules in the TPP, which exist in other US trade agreements, allowing investors to sue foreign governments to enforce investor rights.
John Key said that he'd imagine New Zealand would take Australia's approach, saying the idea was far-fetched.
The newly launched New Zealand Not For Sale Campaign says that contrary to the issue being far-fetched, it is a very real threat.
"US$326 million "compensation" has been paid out by governments to corporations in cases filed to date under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These cases included "compensation" to companies who produced cigarettes, high fructose corn syrup gasoline additive".
NAFTA has formed the template for US trade negotiations since, and although it was alarming that the Prime Minister did not understand a key aspect of the US approach to trade, it was not surprising, given the mythologising that occurs around free trade.
The biggest con of the branding around the free trade agenda is that it is primarily about trade. But it is the pervasive rules around investment that should cause most concern.
The New Zealand Not For Sale Campaign called on the Government to stop negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership and conduct detailed investigations, involving non-governmental organisations, about the implications for the country's economic sovereignty arising out of an expanded TPP.
Background Listen to the Prime Minister's comments here: http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/audio/1011/PMonAPECandTPP.mp3 on the Scoop website, or watch the questions here (at 38 mins, 5 seconds): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_OCDf_evaA
Investor state provisions are controversial aspects of free trade agreements, which allow corporations to secure compensation (sue sovereign governments) for loss of profits. 66 such cases have been attempted, and nine have been successful, under the NAFTA, which the United States developed in the early 1990s.
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