Article – BusinessDesk
Nov. 10 (BusinessDesk) – The foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee is likely to start public hearings on the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and associated National Interest Assessment soon after governments sign the accord, expected …
Select committee scrutiny of TPP deal likely after February
By Pattrick Smellie
Nov. 10 (BusinessDesk) – The foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee is likely to start public hearings on the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and associated National Interest Assessment soon after governments sign the accord, expected by next February, before the process of parliamentary ratification begins.
New Zealand’s chief negotiator for the TPP, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade deputy secretary David Walker, told a briefing in Wellington the earliest US President Barack Obama would be able to sign off on TPP was 90 days after his referring to Congress, which occurred last Friday, meaning a February sign-off in Washington.
Other countries are expected to be on similar timetables to start the two years envisaged as being necessary for the trade and investment pact covering 12 countries in the Asia-Pacific region to pass through the member states’ parliaments.
If the process took longer than two years, there was a provision allowing TPP to come into force as long as 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the signatories and no less than six countries had ratified it. To reach that threshold, the two largest economies in the deal – the US and Japan – would have to have ratified TPP, which can’t be renegotiated by any of the signatories ahead of ratification.
While there was provision for reviews at regular intervals once it was in place, “there is no process for renegotiating the deal before entry into force,” said Walker. “People have to decide whether they are happy with the deal or not. It’s a big, complex thing.”
Negotiators had tried to exhaust all the issues in the talks that led to the agreement reached in Atlanta in late October.
The parliamentary process will see the TPP text referred to the select committee for report back, with a process for public submissions, but the only legislation required will be to cover specific changes agreed in the negotiations, such as to tariff levels, trade remedies, and intellectual property. For example, New Zealand is required to move its period of copyright protection from 50 years at present to 70 years.