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Fresh start needed for EU trade agreement

Bill English could use the opportunity of trade negotiations with the European Union (EU) to push for a new type of trade agreement that promotes sustainable economic development and helps create an economy that works for all New Zealanders, the Green Party said today.

“This is an opportunity for a new type of trade agreement, negotiated in a transparent and democratic way, that puts people, jobs, and the environment ahead of multinational corporations,” Green Party trade spokesperson Barry Coates said.

“An EU-New Zealand agreement could be a chance to ditch the extreme pro-big business aspects of old fashioned trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), and forge a new agreement with people, local jobs, and sustainability at its centre.

“Facing widespread opposition, the EU has scrapped the major Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade agreement and started to rethink its approach. Now is the time for New Zealand and the EU to take a major step towards a strong, sustainable, democratic trade system that’s widely supported by the public.

“The EU is a leader when it comes to action on climate change, so we should be taking this opportunity to integrate trade agreements with countries’ commitments to clean up their economies under the Paris Climate Agreement.

“It’s not a matter of economics and trade versus the environment. We should use the EU trade negotiations to strengthen environmentally sustainable business, economic development, and trade.

“There is already widespread opposition in the EU and New Zealand to the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms that allow corporations to sue governments, and there is no place for ISDS in any future New Zealand-EU agreement. Our democratic and judicial systems should not be undermined by rights for foreign corporations.

“Fair rules on trade need to be the focus. New Zealand should not agree to negotiations that would impose costly new patent rights or open up more government services to be outsourced to multinational corporations like Serco,” Mr Coates said.