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This election year, It’s Our Future has developed 10 bottom lines for New Zealand’s future trade policy.
These positions are designed to reflect New Zealanders’ concerns about the TPPA and to provide a standard against which future trade and investment agreements can be assessed.
We have asked the trade representatives from the National, Labour, New Zealand First, The Māori Party, The Opportunities Party, and the Greens where they stood on each of these demands so that concerned New Zealanders know who to vote for if they want a positive change in New Zealand’s future trade and investment policy.
The full text of the 10 bottoms lines are set out below. The political parties’ responses, and our assessment of how they stack up, is available here.
1. An end to secrecy
Negotiations must take place under conditions of openness, including the regular release of draft negotiation texts to the public.
2. Democratic oversight
Negotiation mandates must be voted on by Parliament — with the aid of public submissions — before the start of future trade and investment negotiations.
Future trade and investment agreements must also be presented to Parliament for approval before the conclusion of negotiations, and following independent economic, health, human rights and environmental impact assessments.
3. Unrestricted right to protect the public interest and the environment
The New Zealand government must be free to protect and promote the wellbeing of its people and the natural environment in any way it sees fit.
To achieve this, trade and investment agreements must contain strong and enforceable carve-outs to ensure that social and environmental regulation is not undermined.
4. Regulation of overseas investment
The New Zealand government must be free to set its own rules on overseas investment, and to change these rules in accordance with national priorities.
5. Protection of international law
Trade and investment agreements must not undermine states’ obligations in other international agreements, including those protecting human rights, labour standards and the environment. These obligations are to take precedence in the event of any inconsistency with future trade and investment agreements.
6. No Investor-State Dispute Settlement
Overseas investors must not have access to rights, remedies and dispute mechanisms other than those available to local investors.
7. Honour the Treaty of Waitangi
Any future trade and investment agreements must contain a strong and comprehensive carve-out to protect the rights of Māori, consistent with te Tiriti o Waitangi and other recognised sources.
8. Exclude local government
Elected local government bodies must be free to make, and be accountable for, their own decisions without being subject to the constraints of international trade and investment agreements.
9. Retain the role of the State
Trade and investment agreements must not undermine, directly or indirectly, the authority of the State to regulate the economy, hold assets, provide services to the public and enter into commercial arrangements.
10. Promote the free flow of knowledge and information
Trade and investment agreements must not confer new monopoly rights over the use and distribution of knowledge, or over the digital domain.