Q+A Panel Discussion – In response to Tim Groser Interview

Press Release – TV One

Well, I guess its when it comes to fruition. Its a very major deal, Susan, and its, I guess, the most large free-trade agreement regional free-trade agreement we can be part of, stopping short of, actually, another round of the …Q + A
Hosted by SUSAN WOOD
In response to Tim Groser Interview

SUSAN Fran, TPP – I know you’re an expert on this. Do you think it’s a good deal for the country?

FRAN O’SULLIVAN – NZ Herald Columnist
Well, I guess it’s— when it comes to fruition. It’s a very major deal, Susan, and it’s, I guess, the most large free-trade agreement – regional free-trade agreement – we can be part of, stopping short of, actually, another round of the WTO. It’s taken successive work by ministers from Labour, who kicked it off, notably Phil Goff, Jim Sutton before him, and then baton picked up by the current government. Clearly, there’s benefits by getting access to markets which are basically been not so much closed to us but big impediments, like Japan and parts of the States and other parts of Asia. I think it’s a good— From what I understand, I think it’s all upside, to be honest.

SUSAN Claire, politically, we— whichever government is in, we’ve been pretty consistent around these sort of trade deals, haven’t we?

DR CLAIRE ROBINSON – Political Scientist
Yeah, and we need to be. Since we weren’t guaranteed access to the European market after 1973, we had to become really smart about how we trade internationally. We’ve got fantastic negotiators. We’ve been doing it for a long, long time. I think that— I mean, personally, because I know a lot of them, I wouldn’t worry about, you know, their ability to actually strike a really good deal for New Zealand.

SUSAN That’s good to know.

CLAIRE I think, you know, they’re going to do the best. Yeah, I don’t think that anyone’s going to lie over and just be rolled over in this one.

MATT McCARTEN – National Secretary, Unite Union
This is extraordinary. We have not mentioned the fact is, you know, that the corporates who are pushing this want it for their own reasons. We’re the 76th biggest economy in the world. We are bit players. They want the right – foreign-owned companies – to able to buy up, go into every contract, and if we don’t play ball, they can sue us in our own country. We’re giving up our sovereignty. And what we’ve got is Tim Groser – most New Zealanders who would have seen him for the first time on TV – saying, ‘Don’t you worry your pretty heads about it. We’ll come out all right. And we’ll sign it up, and you’ll suck it up, and there’s no appeal back.’

SUSAN He was pretty clear there he had some bottom lines – Fonterra, pharmaceuticals, all of those things—

MATT Yeah, they haven’t said the other stuff.

SUSAN He said that’s not going to happen.

MATT He never mentioned about overseas companies being able to actually contract for every tender which goes up, and we can’t accept a deal which is not as cheap as what they can. We will give up our sovereignty. We can’t do anything about it. They can sue us, and we mentioned about the plain packaging on cigarettes for the copyrights and so on and so on. None of that gets mentioned, and we just said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’

FRAN Yeah, it’s interesting about copyright, because there’s a major issue, obviously, in the science and technology community, and my understanding was quite early on in the negotiations when issues were raised about what potentially was going to be in the texts, and bear in mind it was America wanting a very aggressive position. But the Government and the negotiators have spent a lot of time talking with people in that part of the sector and also sharpening up the negotiations from New Zealand’s perspective what that stance will be. But one thing I wanted to raise also about China, which Jane Kelsey mentioned about, you know, basically how could we straddle both these major polarities. It’s interesting, when I was in China earlier in the year and was talking to key players in the state councils, official areas, who work on trade, they’re actually looking quite closely at the TPP, because within China, there’s a sense that maybe in time if China comes into it as well, it will force a new amount of change within China itself, and so its companies become better about protecting their newly developed IP.

MATT Do you think that China is going to be influenced by this, really?

FRAN Yes, I do.

MATT Does anyone actually here believe that the Republican Congress is going to actually have free trade when they rely on the southern states, which all have protections for their agriculture?

FRAN No, I think—

MATT They’re going to—

FRAN I think if you look at the structure— If you look at the structure of this deal, essentially what it is is the guts of what will be the free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, and it started with our officials and our ministers carving, you know, Chile, Singapore, Brunei and New Zealand together and then adding to that. They brought in— It was their prowess that brought the US to the table. Others brought in Japan.

MATT The States have always said that, ‘We want free trade for everyone else, and we protect our domestic markets.’ And we’ll be asked to do all the giving, and they’ll protect their own—

FRAN Well, but we can walk away. If the carve-outs are there—

MATT We won’t, because—

FRAN No, no. Well, the deal—

MATT …Tim is going to sign the thing up, and we just suck it up.

FRAN No, we don’t have to suck it up. He’s on record as saying if the deal isn’t comprehensive and high quality—

MATT You’ve got more faith in them than I do.

FRAN …New Zealand will not come to the table.

SUSAN And Claire’s got faith in them too, haven’t you?


MATT Great faith.


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