Secret trade negotiations undermining New Zealand’s democracy
This week, trade ministers and officials from the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
(TPPA) meet in Maui in an attempt to finalise the agreement.
Oxfam New Zealand has repeatedly expressed concern about the secrecy surrounding the negotiating texts and the potential
impacts of the TPPA on future models of trade agreements in the Pacific as well as access to medicines for people living
in poverty in New Zealand and in other countries.
On the eve of the latest talks, Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier said:
“It is unacceptable that at this late stage of negotiations, the text of this sweeping agreement is still being kept
secret from New Zealanders. It is vital that the texts are made publically available before any agreement is signed so
that we can know the full extent of how it will affect us. We also need to know what rights the TPPA will give overseas
corporations to sue our government when laws are made in the public interest which threaten those corporations’ profits.
These questions are fundamental to the exercise of our democratic rights.
“We are also concerned about the impact it might have on people living in poverty in other TPPA countries. The potential
for the agreement to raise the prices of medicines, especially in Vietnam, is extremely worrying.
“Because trade agreements often set precedents for subsequent trade agreements, the TPPA is likely to have flow-on
effects to other regions. This makes the TPPA a concern for Pacific island countries, which are especially economically
vulnerable to changes in trade rules. Any agreement with such profound impacts cannot be concluded in secret. The text
must be released immediately and well before it is signed,” she said.