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More on the new TPPA

30 January 2018

The previous government was hell-bent on pushing through the TPPA, seemingly without regard for the overall effect on New Zealand's economy or sovereignty.

One of the strongest opponents of the TPPA was the Labour party yet, strangely enough, now that they are in power, they are also championing this trade agreement as a positive thing.

Hypocrisy? Or have there been some fundamental changes to the TPPA that have turned it from evil to good?

Well from where I stand, there's a little bit of both but I am certainly not happy at the about-face that Labour has engaged in and I do not think we should be signing up to the current offering.

Here's why.

The most negative aspects of the original TPPA were the draconian changes to copyright law that would have been forced upon us.

Driven mainly by powerful US corporate interests, the old TPPA would have required New Zealand to extend the term of copyright protection so as to fall into line with the USA's own domestic laws and it would also have prevented some things which are quite legal (and reasonable) under our existing framework.

Other IP provisions might have seen Pharmac's right to bulk-buy and opt for generic drugs in order to reduce the nation's health bill canceled or at least significantly eroded.

Our government would also have been liable to prosecution if it decided to exercise its sovereign right to pass new laws -- should those laws have adversely affected any foreign company. Under the original TPPA, companies so affected would have had a right to sue to recover losses.

In short... the government's right to pass laws that best-benefit the nation was being sold for a few beads and blankets by way of (sometimes only slightly) reduced tariffs with overseas markets.

When the USA pulled out of the TPPA, the remaining parties did a quick re-think and came up with a new variant they called the CPTPP. Whilst this version is slightly better than the original, there is a very worrying word used far too often: "suspended".

Now the Labour government is telling everyone that we don't have to worry about the more draconian elements of the old TPPA (such as the copyright changes) because they won't apply in the new agreement.

I'm sorry but that's more than a little disingenuous.

The most contentious elements of the original TPPA have not been removed from the new document, merely "suspended". They're still there, able to be activated at a later date -- should the USA decide to knock on the door.

I'm sorry... that's just not good enough.

Imagine if we sign up to the CPTPP in March and everything goes along just fine for a year or so... then the USA (as Trump has clearly indicated he may do) then decides that the USA will join.

If/when that happens, there's a very real possibility that all the things we hated most about the TPPA will become un-suspended and have effect.

I'm not having that!

If Labour really wants us to sign up to this deal then the word "suspended" should be replaced by the phrase "struck out".

Let's face it, politicians are devious sods at the best of times so why would they merely suspend something if they had no intention of reactivating it at a later date?

Not good enough Labour... your hypocrisy is showing!

And, in case you're interested, here is a list of those "suspensions".

What do readers think? Is this good enough or is it just another cunning ploy to slip this crap past while they think we are asleep?

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