Hillary Clinton’s NZ visit has been postponed at the last minute, due to the Haiti earthquake but, regardless of that, negotiations will commence on March 15th for the US to join the existing trade and investment agreement, the grandly named Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership – often known as the P4. The US wishes to use this as a platform for a broad Asia/Pacific free trade bloc, and several other regional countries have indicated that they want to join the current P4 members – New Zealand, Singapore, Chile and Brunei . There are already moves afoot to extend the P4 into investment and financial services. The aim is to have the deal done in 2011 (meaning that it will be too late to raise it as an election issue).
This becomes the means to open negotiations for a US/NZ Free Trade Agreement, which will (among other things):
Remove any remaining “restrictions” on foreign investment, as the US regards NZ’s (purely token) oversight regime as “discriminating” against US transnational corporations
push up the price of medicines by potentially hundreds of millions of dollars a year by attacking Pharmac;
make access to digital recordings more expensive, and copying more restricted;
attack our GE controls and food labelling,
weaken our controls on food imports where they might carry diseases.
Prime Minister John Key has already confirmed that NZ “must be prepared to make concessions”, saying that the US will have its own “shopping list... You can’t rule out Pharmac – it’s been on the list before. You can’t rule out issues of intellectual property and investment. All of those things will inevitably be part of the negotiations” (Press, 17/11/09; “Concessions needed for US deal, Key”).
Both National and Labour myopically see a US FTA as being the Holy Grail of their adherence to the cargo cult of “free trade”. New Zealanders who kid themselves that “we” stand to gain from a Free Trade Agreement with the US would be wise to reflect on the rueful words of Sir Christopher Meyer, Britain’s Ambassador to the US in the runup to the US/UK invasion of Iraq. Speaking to the current public Inquiry into Britain’s part in that invasion and war: “Meyer expressed frustration that Britain was unable to gain much diplomatic leverage from its position as the US’ chief ally. Britain failed to persuade the US to liberalise trans-Atlantic air travel and, almost on the day when British commandoes joined the fighting in Afghanistan, the US imposed tariffs on imports of specialised British steel” (Press, 28/11/09). If this is the way that the US treats its “chief ally” when it comes to protecting its own trade and economic interests, how do you think little old NZ will get on?
CAFCA is calling on other groups and individuals to join us in the campaign against this very dangerous proposal. As a first step we’ve set up the New Zealand Not For Sale Website www.nznotforsale.org There you will find a wealth of information about just why this proposed Free Trade Agreement is such a bad thing. We particularly recommend that you read Bill Rosenberg’s excellent article “Who Wins If We Get A Free Trade Deal With The US?” http://nznotforsale.wordpress.com/who-wins-if-we-get-a-free-trade-with-the-us/
That Website also has a list of New Zealanders who have publicly expressed their opposition to a US/NZ Free Trade Agreement. You can view the list at http://www.nznotforsale.org/2009/05/13/signatories-to-statement-opposing-p4-free-trade-agreement/
If you would like to add your name (and any organisational office held, if applicable) to that list, just reply to this e-mail with your name and/or position. Title your e-mail “I Oppose US/NZ FTA, Add Me To The List”
And we’re asking all of you to write to MPs saying that you oppose this proposed deal and why. Below is a template letter (which is also downloadable from the Website).