TPPA – trade talks undemocratic, are we pushing US or NZ interests? We simply don’t know.

I love how the most powerful democratic nation in the world utilises a completely undemocratic process to increase markets and opportunities for itself.

New Zealanders have many questions about what is going on in the current round of Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) talks, much of which we can only guess at.  We think the governments will be discussing IP law, foreign investment, tobacco labelling, genetically modified organisms/food (both labelling and sale and production), Pharmac, plus more.

The parties have agreed that all documents, excepting the final document, be kept secret for FOUR YEARS.

There are four internationally recognised consumer rights; the right to safety; the right to know; the right to be heard, and; the right to choose.  These rights are the outcome of the Bill of Consumer Rights presented to the US Congress in 1962.   Hmmmm the ‘right to know’……

US law over copyright and IP law is controversial, and simply serving corporate interests should not necessarily be seen as a democratic answer.   Non-corporate stakeholders need to be openly involved in negotiations, (rather than allowed a summary briefing and then dispensed with – see TPPwatch.org), and these questions need to be debated in our Parliament, not debated in some Green Room.  America may have the best lawyers but I doubt whether all the countries coming to these talks think Americans are acting in their best interests.

I have deep reservations about producing and then pushing markets for GM food.   We see a history of dumping on reluctant markets.   Canadian GM canola farmers who have recently lost access to the lucrative GM free EU market.  Canola farmers in Australia have to face the fact that non-GM canola reaches a premium over GM canola. Because rich (and many poor) nations would prefer non GM food and that is a fact.

In America the Centre for Food Safety has taken the first step towards suing the US government; by issuing a petition to the FDA to change their regulations and make labelling for foods containing GMOs mandatory.   What exactly is the TPPA discussing in regards to GMOs?

Hmmmm, the consumers ‘right to safety’ (just do a search for ‘GRAS’ & ‘GMO’) and the ‘right to know’……. makes some people think.   Makes my blood boil.

And I want to really know what ‘liberalising trade’ means when there is a likelihood that the powerhouse pulling the punches spends a stack of money on farmer subsidies. “Yup, we’ll lower our tariffs but this is completely separate from the government money we pay our farmers.”

As a member of democratic New Zealand I want to know what the hell is being negotiated for.   Why isn’t this information transparent?

Twenty years ago trade talks were largely about debating agricultural tariffs.  Talks have now upshifted to a dazzling level of complexity.   I wonder about the weight of corporate lawyers behind the transnational corporate interests pushing, just to pick one, IP law for example?   How can our own (mushroomed) experts balance that? Decision making that will affect how we operate for the next decade or more.

Who is really going to benefit?  Let us not be naive.  Or ignorant.

Transparency in democracy.  Let us openly debate our future.

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9 countries are involved:  Brunei, Chile, and New Zealand are original signatories and 6 additional countries; Australia, Malaysia, Peru, Japan, United States and Vietnam are negotiating to join.

About Jodie

It is only by questioning and discussing and attempting to view the world our childrens children will live in, that we start to understand that life isn't a linear process - it is a room of dominoes falling. Our world has a lot of special interests and stakeholders that by default, keep science undone, and economics hooked in the 1920's - resulting in governments that don't address the complexity that is challenging our world. From pollution to mental health (and the cost of food) to the health of our freshwater - it's complex and dynamic. What equilibrium do we want to reach - a healthy vital one or a suffering one?
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