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Comprehensive Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership 26 January 2018 (Edition 1/2018)

Comprehensive Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership 26 January 2018 (Edition 1/2018)

This week the Government announced the successful conclusion of negotiations for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP, formally known as the TTP). The Government has signalled its intent to sign the trade agreement, with ten other Pacific-rim nations in Chile on 8 March.  The big withdrawal of course, is the United States, but the big new market inclusion for New Zealand is Japan (the world’s third largest economy and where New Zealand has no current trade agreement.)

The Government’s view is that the new deal satisfies its five pre-conditions, which makes it different from the past National Government deal, namely; “(i) increased export markets, (ii) upholding the Treaty of Waitangi, (iii) protecting the Pharmac model, (iv) preserving the right to regulate in the public interest, and (v) narrowing the scope of investor State dispute settlements.” They also consider that changes to the Overseas Investment Act (amendments now before Parliament) will reaffirm that it is not a right for an overseas buyer to purchase a house in New Zealand – thereby protecting the property market from external inflation pressures.

We note that when the TPP was first announced there was significant Māori protest against it. Some of the protest was concern about what would happen with wages and employment levels – i.e. would more jobs disappear to countries with cheaper labour, and/or would the deal suppress New Zealand labour rates?  Other parts of the protest concerned Māori rangatiratanga under such a trade-deal.  However we note presently Māori voices on the matter are generally mute.[1]  We suspect that is because, with the new text not yet available, it is difficult to see if the proposal is actually substantially different from the past or not.  (I.e. there already was a Treaty protection clause in the last version, which the Waitangi Tribunal found was sufficient.)  Once the text is released we will review the matter further from a Māori policy perspective, but based on present information we cannot see how it might protects Māori workers any more than the previous TPP.

[1] Additionally we note the Green Party has indicated they will vote against this legislation.

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