TPPA Bulletin #76

The Fight Continues

No doubt many of you are dismayed at the outcome of the Atlanta TPPA talks, which saw a poor deal concluded, with only marginal market access for NZ dairy exports and confirmation of many of the worst fears of campaigns: investor-state dispute settlement provisions, costly copyright restrictions, increased costs for Pharmac, restrictions on the operation of SOEs and an array of other measures that amplify the influence of foreign investors and multinational corporations.

The NZ Government may be trumpeting its achievements, but the reality is far from rosy. As Bryan Gould notes in the NZ Herald:
The TPPA is a blueprint for extending the operation of those corporations without their having to bother with the restrictions that might be placed on them by national governments in the interests of their domestic populations.

It represents, in other words, a further, large, and largely irreversible step towards the absorption of a small economy like New Zealand into a much larger economy - an economy that is increasingly directed from overseas, not by politicians or even officials, but by self-interested and unaccountable business leaders.

Action continues! 

On conclusion of the deal, It's Our Future called on the NZ Government to release the text and all other relevant decision-making material immediately. In the Auckland Council a resolution has just been passed calling on the government to release the final agreed text of the agreement and consult with the Council before further decisions are made.

Activists around the country are currently consulting on what next steps to take, and we will keep you informed of any actions that are coming up and how you can play your part.

International Treaties Bill

NZ First MP Fletcher Tabuteau (the man who brought you the Fighting Foreign Corporate Control Bill) now has a new Bill, the International Treaties Bill, which would shift the decision-making power to ratify to agreements like the TPPA from Cabinet to Parliament.

Professor Jane Kelsey's Latest Blog: 

Sober reflections on the TPPA deal – and why we need to keep fighting
(We have reprinted Professor Jane Kelsey's latest blog on the TPPA from The Daily Blog below in full.)

After five and a half years Tim Groser and co finally did the deal. This was the worst possible day to be flying for 26 hours, trying to catch up with the details and unable to respond to media calls and the inevitable character assassination of those of us opposed to the TPPA.

There was no way the twelve governments were going to end the TPPA ministerial meeting in Atlanta without an agreement, especially after they got so close in Maui. They were out of time and too much political capital was at stake for any of the governments and ministers to have ‘failed’.

Instead, they failed us. New Zealand, along with Vietnam and Malaysia, are the biggest losers. We were always one of the most vulnerable players: no bargaining leverage, unrealistic demands pressed by an aggressive trade minister, and facing potentially more radical adjustments to satisfy US demands than participating countries that already have a USFTA.

We can take some solace in knowing that the battles fought nationally and internationally over the years, and the determination of staunch and courageous negotiators from some countries, stripped out some extreme proposals that became known through leaks. The final deal is still toxic, but it could have been even worse.

Without the text it’s impossible to precisely assess its implications, and we won’t get to see that for another month. Under the US Fast Track law, President Obama has to give 90 days notice to Congress before he can sign the TPPA, and must make the text public 30 days into that period. That gives the participating governments and their fellow travellers a month to spin the benefits, knowing that we don’t have the details.

Meanwhile, members of the US Congress and the corporate lobbyists who are ‘cleared advisers’ will get to see the deal. They will be all over it, seeking to change what they don’t like and making new demands. That will be the first of many opportunities for them to seek to rewrite the ‘final’ deal.

We do have some information. The USTR immediately released a 15 page summary of the 30 chapters. The Japanese government’s chapter by chapter account is more detailed and runs to 36 pages, but in Japanese; so, frustratingly for us, is the Ministry of Agriculture’s detailed explanation of Japan’s market access commitments. Canada has produced its own account . In New Zealand, MFAT has released a Q&A which says the only costs will be a 20 year extension to copyright law.

The spin has already begun. Fran O’Sullivan praised Groser’s ‘brinkmanship in the final brutal hours’ for securing New Zealand a deal on dairy that provided more than enough foie gras to compensate for any dead rats. What bollocks! It is true that Groser held out, arguing with USTR Froman until 5am. But he came out of it with bugger all.

In the assessment of US blog Politico:
‘Losers: New Zealand’s dairy industry, which is unhappy with the amount of access they’ve gotten. The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand thanked Groser for making “every effort”, but said it was “disappointed that the agreement has not delivered a more significant opening of TPP dairy markets”. Surely, no-one really expected otherwise?

Claims the final package will be worth $2.7 billion a year for New Zealand by 2030 reflect another well-honed strategy. The MFAT figures expand concrete gains from tariff cuts by the time the agreement comes fully into force (at least another 15 years) through modelling and assumptions about intangible economic benefits. These figures rapidly gained traction, but cannot be authoritatively contested without the text and the studies or cost-benefit analyses that it relies on (the Minister has previously refused my Official Information Act requests for such analyses).

Minister Groser has continually sought to justify the government’s participation in the TPPA by insisting he would accept nothing less than a ‘high quality, commercially meaningful deal’ for dairy. For example, 20 June 2012 – Tim Groser’s Address to the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council: TPP and New Zealand’s export future:
‘TPP Leaders agreed in Honolulu in November … on a set of very high benchmarks, including elimination of all tariffs….This is going to challenge a number of the participants, especially on their most sensitive agriculture sectors, but if this is not to end as a farce, it is something they are going to have to do.’

Indeed, he promised to walk away from a deal if the TPPA failed to deliver those benefits. That was never going to happen, as Groser made clear at the end of the failed Maui ministerial. What we get instead at yesterday’s ministerial press briefing was yet more promises for the future and ‘trust us’ politics:

“Look, long after the details of this negotiation on things like tons of butter have been regarded as a footnote in history, the bigger picture of what we’ve achieved today will be what remains. It is inconceivable that the TPP bus will stop at Atlanta. The TPP bus will move on … Our industry structures will change in response to the opportunities of this agreement, and in future years, we can be absolutely certain that the depth of achievement we’ve been able to reach at this point in our collective history will be deepened and broadened and other people will join this agreement. Don’t ask me to be precise because I would then be forecasting the future, but I just want to tell you that while the difficult negotiations on things like dairy products, which in my country’s case ended at 5 o’clock this morning, we have always to deal with these realities in a trade negotiation, but the bigger picture is the reason we’re sitting here and that bigger picture will be profoundly important and beneficial to the generations of the people in our respective countries."

Echoes of the conveniently timed primer from Helen Clark: it would be unthinkable for New Zealand not to part of such a deal.

What do we know about the details? Let’s stay with dairy for now. The chess game said US concessions to NZ depended on new US exports to Canada and Japan. Canada granted new quotas phased in over 5 years: a 3.25% share of annual dairy production, with most directed to value-added processing (not what New Zealand produces). That is for all 11 members; we don’t know how much of that NZ got.

Japan will continue to regulate dairy imports through its state owned trading company. There will be a quota for imports of powdered skim milk and butter, raising from 60,000 tons to 70,000 in six years. Again, it’s not clear if NZ gets any of that. Tariffs will go from cheddar in 16 years.

Groser foreshadowed his sales pitch, now downplaying the significance of dairy, during the Atlanta press conference:
‘this establishes, in the long run, complete elimination of all tariffs on everything New Zealand exports with two exceptions. One is the beef tariff in Japan and the other are some dairy products, some of which will achieve tariff elimination and others have proven to be too difficult.’

There do appear to be more significant gains for beef, fruit, seafood, wine, forstry products, lamb – but, as the Australia Japan FTA showed, the devil will be in the detail. Most of these concessions will have (very) long phase out periods and ‘safeguards’ that allow claw-backs if they impact severely on the domestic industry. Some will have ‘special safeguards’ as well.

What are the downsides? Again, we need to see the details of the text, but the following is a start.

Affordable medicines was potentially affected by four elements: longer effective patent protections; new rules for drug companies’ monopolies over the data for new generation biologics medicines; and a ‘transparency’ annex gives Pharma more influence during Pharmac’s decisions.

The latest information I have confirms what Groser has said (contrary to Key’s earlier concessions that medicines will cost more). Australia’s hard won provision on biologics will protect New Zealand as well, subject to kickback in the US Congress and during the SU certification process. New Zealand’s patent laws currently meet the final TPPA threshold.

The transparency annex, although unenforceable, is still a provlem as it is likely to include oversight mechanisms and could inform the fourth remaining, serious element – the potential for investor-state disputes over the refusal patents (as in Canada’s Eli lilly case) or Pharmac’s decisions not to subsidise medicines.

The weak general exception that applies to public health apparently does not apply to the investment chapter. There is a tobacco exception but that only applies to ISDS, whereas Malaysia proposed a carveout from the entire agreement. The government could choose to block an investment arbitration over a tobacco control measure, but that appears to be a case by case election by a government that is already under pressure from Big Tobacco. But it seems they could still bring a case if they allege discrimination. States can still enforce the entire agreement, including the investment chapter. Tobacco policies are also still captured by the chapter on services (eg. advertising, retail) or labelling rules in the chapter on technical barriers to trade.

The investment chapter is based on the US model bilateral investment treaty, which is more pro-investor than New Zealand’s existing FTAs, including with China, Taiwan and South Korea. Investors are also expected to be able to use ISDS to enforce their contracts in the case of a dispute (eg Sky City or PPPs), even if that’s not provided for in their contract. The ‘most-favoured nation’ clause in those agreements means their investors now get these stronger protections. There are some procedural improvements to the old ISDS model but apparently still no appeals, no code of conduct, and no effective constraints on tribunals going rogue.

The governent continues to play down the risks from this, saying New Zealand has never been sued. Australia, Germany, and many other OECD countries had the same false sense of complacency until they faced massive damages claim for adoption health, environmental and anti-nuclear policies. The global backlash against ISDS, including by governments, cannot simply be ignored.

The cross-border services chapter has largely gone unremarked and needs to be viewed in tandem with current 24-party negotiations for a Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). The chapter will require governments to maintain the current failed risk-tolerant light handed approach to regulation of services. Current levels of liberalisation will be locked in for many services, with a ratchet that automatically locks in any new liberalisation. Similar annexes will apply to the investment chapter. We don’t have the annexes to see which services and investments they apply to, but the Prime Minister has already conceded it would be impossible to strengthen restrictions on foreign investors in the residential property market.

Future governments may not be able to establish new state-owned enterprises (eg insurance, broadcasting, research) that require state support which foreign competitors say has an adverse effect on their activities. Again, we need to see the details on this and other impacts of the chapter.

Twenty years longer for copyright will impact on libraries and researchers, depending on the exceptions. New provisions are expected to allow ISPs to block websites if infringements are alleged (not proved) and new criminal penalties would apply for circumventing digital locks. The global tech companies claim to have succeded in stopping ‘localisation’ rules, where countries require data to be stored within the territory (localisation).

There are numerous provisions and a whole chapter dedicated to ensuring that commercial interests have rights to influence government decisions on policy and regulation.

This is just a start. New Zealanders therefore need to ask a simple question: who gave the Prime Minister and Trade Minister the right to sacrifice our rights to regulate foreign investment, to decide our own copyright laws, to set up new SOEs, and whatever else they have agreed to in this secret deal and present it to us as a fait accompli?

The campaign against the TPPA now moves into a new phase in each country: educating people about what the text means for nations, communities and sectors, countering the spin that is already at full tilt, and then stopping governments from adopting it.

That is crucial not just to save individual countries from the toxic deal. If enough governments hold back they cannot get the critical mass needed to bring the TPPA into force. This happened with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) – thanks to opposition within Europe it has still not been ratified by the minimum number of countries required. It is not clear how many and what size signatories will be required for the TPPA.

Clearly the US remains pivotal. Opposition is already welling up inside the Congress from both parties on a wide range of issues. Memories of Obama’s failure to secure Fast Track first time around in a bruising political contest that alienated his own supporters potend ill in an election year.

In my next blog I will explain in detail the political processes that will be used here, and in the US, and what opportunities they present to derail the TPPA.

TPPA Bulletin #75


Ministers are meeting in Atlanta on 30 September (US time) with a view to concluding talks on the agreement. Groser has been attempting to play it cool (anybody fooled?) and pretend he might not go, but we fully expect he will not only go, but also agree to whatever is required of him.
We need you to call the parliamentary offices of John Key (04 817 6800) and Tim Groser (04 817 6811) office on 30 September and tell them it is time to walk away from this toxic deal.

Legal Challenge to Secrecy
On Monday Professor Jane Kelsey and seven other applicants had a hearing in the Wellington High Court challenging TPPA secrecy. They are seeking a declaration that Minister Groser acted unlawfully when he issued a blanket refusal to release information on TPPA negotiations. Dr Matthew Palmer QC has said that they are simply seeking a standard reading of the Official Information Act.

Atlanta Ministerial
Stakes are high in Atlanta as Ministers hurry to conclude the final agreement. Chief negotiators have been meeting since Monday, and the main points of focus will be around automotive access (Canada and Mexico are upset over a US-Japan bilateral arrangement), biologics, and dairy market access. See Jane Kelsey's op-ed in the NZ Herald for further info.

Gordon Campbell on Dairy
Gordon Campbell has an interesting piece on Scoop trying to decode what's going on with the government currently downplaying expectations around TPPA, particularly on dairy market access.  He concludes that it is likely that the dairy deal has already been done. Not everyone supports Campbell's view, but his piece is thought-provoking and stacked with information, definitely worth a read.

It's Our Future NZ

~> TPPA Bulletin #74

On 15 August 2015 the People spoke!
Over 25,000 people took to the streets in more than 20 towns and cities across the country – magnificent! See media coverage of the protests here.

The government’s responded with insults
PM Key and senior politicians dismissed concerns and belittled critics of the TPPA. Key told TVNZ’s Breakfast that protesters were ‘misinformed’: 1/3 were ‘genuine’, 1/3 were ‘rent-a-crowd’, and the rest were Labour and Green supporter. Groser was even more abrasive, telling Morning Report that people were being misled by a few hardcore activists, and describing opposition to the agreement as “completely extreme”.

Attack politics backfired
Even the mainstream media attacked that: a Dom Post editorial called the government arrogant, saying concerns are now ‘shared not just by know-nothing lefties and extremist ideologues, but respectable economists of various sorts’. A Herald DigiPoll showed more TPPA opponents than supporters, despite the veil of secrecy. ActionStation supporters challenged government to agree to a live TV debate over the deal.

TPPA remains on life support
TPPA ministers failed to pull off the deal in late July, but they just don’t give up! Now Groser and the lead official have told the court they expect a deal late September or soon after. The US is trying to get other ministers to agree to meet in New York for late September. Others are saying November when the APEC Summit is on. Key says the deal should be done by Christmas. They’ll just keep rolling out the dates, so we need to remain vigilant. As soon as we know more we’ll be in touch.

28 September for court challenge to secrecy
The High Court in Wellington has set down 28 September to hear the challenge to the secrecy surrounding the TPPA. The hearing will probably take one day. You can help pay the costs here  The Waitangi Tribunal has been asked to reconsider the request for urgency to consider the claim that the TPPA process and content breaches the Treaty. Meanwhile, in Japan a legal challenge to the TPPA based on their constitution is getting underway (that’s not possible here).

Nats caught lying about Parliament’s role
The latest National MP caught misleading to constituents over Parliament’s ability to change the final TPPA deal is Shane Reti, who worryingly sits on the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee. The Greens gave Groser’s understudy Todd McClay hell at Parliament’s question time and he wouldn’t give a straight answer.

Ongoing action around the Country
Kiwis around the country have kept up the actions. Activists in Dunedin linked arms, blocking entry to a National Party fundraiser. On 2 September John Key was met by TPPA activists in both Katikati and Waihi! Auckland activists have located Groser’s new office. Whanganui protestors took to the city roundabout when Bill English visited.

Show Us Ya Text
The ‘Show Us Ya Text’ group are planning on undertaking a non-violent citizens’ search and seizure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade office in Wellington on 15 September. Find out how you can get involved here, or support them financially here.

More local government victories
The local government campaign continues its amazing run, with the South Wairarapa District Council supporting the 12-point TPP Policy Solution. Work continues with the Wairarapa and Greater Wellington Region councils. In Auckland, which passed the policy in late-2015, local board members are now moving motions that “seek clarification from the Minister of Trade on how their recommendations are being addressed in current negotiations…”, and it has passed in the Waitemata local board already.

Final debate on Korea FTA 
Great inputs from Greens’ Russel Norman and from NZ First’s Fletcher Tabuteau. Almost no other MPS were in the House! Labour basically reverted to its old position. 

Tobacco troubles
Dr Philip Pattemore’s op ed in the Dominion Post argues that a “carve out” of tobacco from the TPPA  (particularly from ISDS provisions) would help NZ reach its aim of Smokefree 2025. Powerful US Senators, like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from tobacco-producing Kentucky state, have dug in their heels, with one blog suggesting this could derail negotiations in the short-term.

TPPA and Human Rights
Former head of the Human Rights Commission Margaret Bedggood a good piece on the Human Right’s Foundation’s blog looking at TPPA’s impacts on NZ’s domestic human rights obligations - including the right to health and right to life, the right to work and other workplace rights, the right to an adequate standard of living and access to housing, food and water, and democratic rights to information, consultation and participation.

Dairy Declarations
Dairy worker unions from 9 of the 12 countries represented in TPPA negotiations met in San Francisco on 26 August, releasing a statement focusing on democracy, investor rights, wages and conditions and the rights to health and food.

Petition to Reject

Investor-State Dispute Settlements

Sign this extremely important and internationally supported petition 

TPPA Bulletin #70




Maui ministerial – TPPA stalled but not yet defeated

Ministers couldn’t reach a deal in Maui this week. That’s a great win, but no room for complacency. They are very close and the pressure is huge to solve the remaining big issues – dairy (NZ v Japan, US and Canada), automobiles (Mexico v Japan), and biologics medicines (US v rest, led by Australia). There will be frenetic meetings in the next few weeks. Expect another ministerial meeting before the end of August as they aim to meet the informal September deadline.

Media coverage:

Government fesses up to costs of TPPA
In one week Key admitted more taxpayers’ money will go direct into big pharma’s pockets to pay for meds, and new limits won’t be possible on foreign buyers of residential property, while Groser admitted an investor-state dispute could happen and NZ could lose before a rogue tribunal. Seems like a drip feed of confessions in expectation the text would become public and show they had been lying.
A court challenge to secrecy
Next week a case will be lodged in the High Court in Wellington to challenge the secrecy of the TPPA negotiations. Formally it seeks an urgent judicial review of Minister Groser’s refusal to release any documents under the Official Information Act that Jane Kelsey requested back in January. It’s taken so long because the Ombudsman took over 4 months to review the minister’s decision. Other applicants are Consumer NZ, Ngati Kahungunu, Oxfam, Greenpeace, Tertiary Education Union, Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, and NZ Nurses Organisation.
Crown rejects Waitangi Tribunal
Last week, the Waitangi Tribunal considered an urgent hearing on the claim that the TPPA breaches te Tiriti. Given the short time to the ministerial it was proposed that an independent legal expert should review whether the proposed Treaty of Waitangi exception was adequate. The Crown thought about it, then said no - because revisiting the exception could mean other parties want to reopen things important to NZ. As former Nat Minister, now Tribunal member, Doug Kidd said ‘so poor old rangatiratanga goes down the gurgler again’.
Labour finally takes a stand
Bipartisan support for the TPPA is no longer guaranteed. The Labour caucus (not the party) announced five ‘principles’ would decide its position on the TPPA. All but the one about foreign investment in residential property was woolly. But when Key admitted meds would cost more and TPPA would stop Labour restricting foreign buyers of Auckland housing, Andrew Little showed some backbone. Even Annette King spoke out against the meds costs. Labour has a sign-on letter asking Key to protect NZ’s sovereignty and release the text.
Government blocks Fighting Corporate Control Bill
On 22 July NZ First's Fighting Foreign Corporate Control Bill got its first reading. Unfortunately the Bill missed out on getting to the Select Committee by one vote, as expected Peter Dunne and David Seymour voted against the Bill. Speeches from the Government MPs (like David Bennett, Mark Mitchell and Shane Reti) demonstrated their poor understanding of ISDS provisions and what they mean for our democracy.


Get Your Submissions In To

The Independent Review of Intelligence and Security

Submissions deadline: 5.00pm 14 August

and don't forget that  Nicky Hager is speaking on the issue 


Monday August 3rd 

D-Day for real starting 28 July

Ministers aim for final deal on 28-31 July

Now Fast Track is through the Ministers have called a meeting in Maui from 28-31 July. They are saying this is it. But it still depends on a final deal between the US and Japan. Everyone knows time is running out, so they will pull out all the stops.

It’s Our Future have labeled 8-15 August ‘TPPA Action Week’, and a current list of actions is available at the bottom of this page (these details are set to change, and over the coming weeks we will continue to update you).

Groser will cave …
Dairy access to Japan, Canada and US is all that Groser cares about. He and Key admit there’s currently nothing worthwhile on the table, but the hard negotiations are just beginning. The problem for us is that no-one owes NZ anything. So our guess is he will say this is the best deal available and give everything else away.

Unless we stop him … . How?

  •   Ring (not email) Labour MPs and Andrew Little with a simple message: ‘are you opposed to the TPPA, and if not do you realise it will cost you at the election’. Nats need to know Labour opposes the deal. So does Labour!

  • Pressure Peter Dunne to publicly reject the deal, as the Nats will rely on him for the fig leaf of support in parliament. 

  • Press releases from your organization warning about costs of a deal 

  • Maximum profile, Letters to editor, calls to radio
  •  Flash Mobs

Waitangi Tribunal claim
6 applications and 9 interested parties are seeking an urgent hearing in the Waitangi Tribunal arguing the TPPA would breach the Treaty of Waitangi. The Tribunal will decide on Thursday whether to give the claim urgency. The Crown says it’s too late to stop it, and refused to give an undertaking no to make final commitments until the claim is heard. See Crown Fights TPPA Hearing, Iwi groups join Tribunal'sTPP claim, Maori TV, Radio NZ

Groser losing it under pressure, says Labour matters
The pressure is getting to Groser. A speech attacking opponents played divide and rule and confirmed that Labour’s position matters: “Here in New Zealand we have anti-trade activists who are relentlessly consistent: they have never supported a single Trade Agreement and they never will. They are politically irrelevant to my political party. However, they get an enormous amount of airplay and are not politically irrelevant to other important elements in our democracy. For reasons I explained earlier, I believe broad bipartisan support for open trade strategies is vital to avoid your country being marginalised.”

Doctors: Why we are not politically irrelevant!
The Doctors for Healthy Trade bit back at Groser’s dismissal of their concerns as politically irrelevant in a brilliant op ed in the Dom Post.

Fighting Foreign Corporate Control Bill
 The Bill is still waiting for a hearing, although it is getting closer. Our sources tell us it is possible that it will come up tonight, however it is very unlikely there will be a debate tonight. On the day we think it will go to its first reading we will send a message out to this list with directions on how to put further pressure on Dunne.

Local Government Campaign

TPPA Action Week

8-15 August 2015

These details are subject to change and events may be added to this list, so make sure you check in on for the latest updates ahead of TPPA Action Week. If you want to organise something in your area, please contact

15 August protest, details to come along with other actions.

15 August protest, details to come.

15 August protest, details to come.

15 August protest, details to come.

15 August protest, details to come

Protest planned, details to come

New Plymouth
Protest planned, details to come

Palmerston North
(Before Action Week) – At 7pm on July 29th Palmerston North City Library is hosting a panel discussion on the TPPA, featuring Assoc Prof Jeff Sluka, Dr Deborak Russell and Dr Shamin Shukur (compere: Assoc Prof Bill Fish).

Art and photo exhibition planned with accompanying information, concert and talks

14 August will be a concert in the library at 5pm, then documentary maker and investigative journalist Bryan Bruce will speak at 6pm on Poverty, Inequality & the TPPA.

Many committed P North activists will also be heading to Wellington on 15 August.

7-13 August – The People Speak #STOPTPPA. NZ Photo exhibition (10am-5pm)

12 August – Lunchtime rally outside Parliament with politicians and speakers.

15 August – TPPA Walk Away! Protest action to stop the TPPA. Assemble at Midland Park and march to Parliament for speakers and music. 

More details to come.

Protest planned, details to come.

15 August protest at 12:30pm. Location: South Hagley Park (corner Deans Ave and Riccarton Rd) marching down Riccarton Rd.

15 August protest planned, details to come.

Protest planned, details to come.