New Zealand should be working on positive new ways of creating international trade agreements, instead of participating in talks to try to resuscitate the dead-and-buried Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), the Green Party said today.
Representatives from all the TPPA countries except the US have been meeting this week in Chile to discuss their next move.
“It is disappointing that our Trade Minister is intent on flogging a dead horse rather than moving on and looking for better ways to support our exporters, create local jobs and develop trade agreements that work in the interests of all New Zealanders,” Green Party trade spokesperson Barry Coates said.
“Trade Minister Todd McClay needs to explain what he’s trying to achieve behind closed doors and why he thinks trying to resuscitate the TPPA is a better option than looking for new opportunities.
“The economic gains from the TPPA were only ever going to be very small for New Zealand. It was always more about extending the rights of multinational corporations than extending market access opportunities.
“It is clear from a number of New Zealand’s trading partners, including the EU and major developing countries, that it is time to change the rules that allow investors to sue governments in international tribunals.
“The failure of the TPPA was not only due to widespread opposition from everyday New Zealanders, who knew instinctively we were getting a raw deal, but from trade and legal experts internationally as well.
“We should be using this opportunity to change direction in our trade policy to support more transparency, better environmental outcomes, and an economy that works for everyone.
“New Zealand needs to be able to trade and we need market access for our exporters, but this should not come at the expense of higher costs for things like medicines and books, and restrictions on the rights of government to regulate in the public interest.
“New Zealand’s priority should be to support the World Trade Organisation (WTO), at a time when multilateralism is under attack. While the Green Party would like to see reform of the WTO because it’s not perfect, it is the only forum to reduce agricultural subsidies that are a major problem for New Zealand agricultural exporters, and to resolve trade disputes,” Mr Coates said.