Which of Labour’s trade policies will the PM pursue in Europe?
‘As the Prime Minister heads to Europe, with the proposed trade deals with the European Union and Britain at the top of
her agenda, which of Labour’s trade policies she is going to pursue?’, asks Auckland University law professor Jane
‘Is it the kind of traditional trade and investment deal that Labour and New Zealand First have criticised, then signed
up to with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and in revisions of the China and Singapore FTAs?’
‘Or will it be the new “inclusive and progressive” strategy that Trade Minister David Parker is about to launch
consultations on, but which does not yet exist?’
Professor Kelsey is herself in Europe and has been discussing the proposed negotiations with politicians, officials and
activists in Britain and the European Union.
Both Britain and the EU see a deal with New Zealand as relatively easy and hope to fast track it. Informal talks began
some time ago under National government, presumably following the TPPA-style model that the government says it wants to
‘A quick outcome assumes there is common ground on most issues, which in turn implies a traditional-style free trade and
investment deal, not the significant rethink the trade minister has promised. If so, the minister’s consultation process
would be sunk before it even starts.’
Professor Kelsey notes that the EU is expected to finalise its mandate for negotiations around 22 May and publish it
immediately. The New Zealand government will face pressure to do the same.
‘There could be common ground with New Zealand over investment’, Kelsey said. The EU will want to run the trade and
investment negotiations in parallel, with separate agreements, because of a split responsibility between the EU and
It is likely to promote a two-tier standing investment court in place of the current ad hoc system of investment
tribunals to hear disputes, as it did with Canada. A decision on the constitutionality of that is due next year.
‘The problem for our government is the EU’s investment court system is old wine in new bottles: investors take disputes
against states in offshore tribunals to enforce rule that are biased in favour of foreign investors and constrain
government’s regulatory sovereignty’.
‘That’s not what the government promised New Zealanders, but have yet to deliver. A positive step to build confidence
would be for our government to draw a red line in its negotiating mandate that says no investment agreement at all. That
would give the Minister some credibility to begin negotiating a genuinely new trade platform’.