Friday, 9 October 2015

Selling The Bigger Picture: Tim Groser Brings Home The TPP.

Adding Perspective: New Zealand's Trade Minister, Tim Groser, interjects during the Atlanta media conference announcing the settlement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: “Look, long after the details of this negotiation on things like tons of butter have been regarded as a footnote in history, the bigger picture of what we’ve achieved today will be what remains.”
ON THE DAY the deal was done, Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, had this to say about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP):
“You will hear much about the importance of the TPP for ‘free trade’. The reality is that this is an agreement to manage its members’ trade and investment relations – and to do so on behalf of each country’s most powerful business lobbies. Make no mistake: It is evident from the main outstanding issues, over which the negotiators are still haggling, that the TPP is not about free trade.”
Certainly a genuine free trade agreement would have offered New Zealand much more than the TPP. Rather than trying to work up some enthusiasm for a deal that offers staggered tariff reductions over decades, a genuine free trade agreement would have had New Zealanders celebrating their farmers’ full and immediate access to the vast markets of the USA and Japan.
Tim Groser, New Zealand’s acerbic Trade Minister, would dismiss such expectations as wholly inappropriate to what he calls the world of power politics. At the media conference marking the negotiations’ successful conclusion, Mr Groser summed-up his view of the TPP with the following interjection:
“Look, long after the details of this negotiation on things like tons of butter have been regarded as a footnote in history, the bigger picture of what we’ve achieved today will be what remains.”
By which he meant, presumably, that the TPP represents much more than the sum of its thirty (still secret) chapters: that it is in and of itself a positive contribution to the welfare of the human species.
And yet, on the basis of what little information has so far been released about the TPP, this is a difficult argument to stand up. What, for example, is positive about the extension of copyright from 50 to 70 years? Or the ability of powerful pharmaceutical companies to extend the life of their patents for an additional three years? Far from freeing-up the commerce of the Pacific Rim, these measures will only restrict it further. Since when was free trade about increasing the monopoly power of huge corporations?
“Since forever!”, Noam Chomsky would, waspishly, reply. According to the dissident professor from MIT: “Globalisation [of which the TPP is a classic manifestation] is the result of powerful governments, especially that of the United States, pushing trade deals and other accords down the throats of the world’s people to make it easier for corporations and the wealthy to dominate the economies of nations around the world without having obligations to the peoples of those nations.”
If this is, indeed, the “bigger picture” to which the efforts of our Trade Minister and his negotiating team have contributed, then the people of New Zealand could be in trouble.
Under the provisions of the TPP, the New Zealand tradition of coming up with creative collective solutions to specific social problems (ACC and Pharmac spring to mind) will no longer be permissible. Henceforth, “solutions” will be the exclusive purview of big (i.e. foreign) corporations. Massive financial compensation will be extracted from any government foolhardy enough to put itself between these corporate predators and their prey. Adjudicated by tribunals composed of three carefully vetted corporate lawyers, “Investor State Dispute Settlement” (ISDS) referrals now constitute a clear and present danger to the sovereignty of all but the most powerful nation states.
In the words of Professor Andrew Geddis of the University of Otago, if New Zealand signs up to the TPP “we are going to change how our country is run into something else.”
That “something else” may turn out to be a big deal, says Professor Geddis, or it may not. But why put our constitution at risk in the first place? Do we really want to “find ourselves reasonably frequently hanging on the decision of three private individuals who are deciding if we are allowed to have a policy in place without having to pay many millions of dollars to an overseas company.”
Very little in the Trade Minister’s “bigger picture”, it seems, is “free”. Nor does “trade” constitute the TPP’s dominant theme. Rather, Mr Groser’s “achievement” is mostly about the application of constant and irresistible pressure to force open the markets of weaker economies to the investors of the stronger.
“Managed” trade, indeed – but not by us.
This essay was originally published in The Waikato Times, The Taranaki Daily News, The Timaru Herald, The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 9 October 2015.


jh said...

Those crying xenophobia (realestate interests and progressives) will/have sink our way of life*. The lower paid are the canary in the mine but they no longer have the backing of the intelligentsia who long ago departed from anything resembling the life of the working classes.
My friend texted me "at ---- lookout. There's 4 Chinese drivers here already"

*PR department will redefine, reassess and resell quality of life.

Stan said...

TPP=Towards Private Profits

Stan said...

The US strategy to create a new global legal and economic system: TPP, TTIP, TISA. (WikiLeaks)

Anonymous said...

I do not believe the doomsayers, most of whom seem to be academics. I will take notice of pragmatic people who create jobs and wealth, ordinary working people and people who are not sucking on the state tit for their livelihood. Academics do not fit into those categories. I have never been convinced by academics of anything they spout also I think many of them to be untrustworthy, though most of them can wax lyrical about good food and wine.

Chris Trotter said...

Thank you, Anonymous@13:05, for demonstrating the rabid anti-intellectualism so central to the worldview of conservative New Zealanders. "Academics" (whose lives are devoted to evidence-based, peer-reviewed, research) are not be trusted. Only the contributions of the "pragmatic" and the "ordinary" (i.e. the ill-educated) are to be taken seriously.

You have illustrated with great gusto the truth of the observation that "reality has a left-wing bias" - as well as showing the world why NZ is in such trouble.

If these are the sort of people who create jobs and wealth, then it is hardly surprising that this country's jobless rate is so high, nor that it's median income is so low.

greywarbler said...

Invisible brain
"I will take notice of pragmatic people who create jobs and wealth, ordinary working people and people who are not sucking on the state tit"...
I have never been convinced by... anything...also I think many of them to be untrustworthy, though most of them can wax lyrical about good food and wine."

It's so easy to create false impressions and wrong judgments when not wanting to look hard at one's own skewed ideas which are screwed down so tightly that the lid will never come off that bottle.

jh said...

I will take notice of pragmatic people who create jobs and wealth, ordinary working people and people who are not sucking on the state tit for their livelihood.
A quote from Herman Daly
Free trade, specialization, and global integration mean that nations are no longer free not to trade. Yet freedom not to trade is surely necessary if trade is to remain voluntary, a precondition of its mutual benefit. To avoid war, nations must both consume less and become more self-sufficient. But free traders say we should become less self-sufficient and more globally integrated as part of the overriding quest to consume ever more. We must lift the laboring masses (which now include the formerly high-wage workers) up from their subsistence wages. This can only be done by massive growth, we are told. But can the environment sustain so much growth? It cannot. And how will whatever growth dividend there is ever get to the poor, i.e., how can wages increase given the nearly unlimited supply of labor? If wages do not increase then what reason is there to expect a fall in the birth rate of the laboring class via the "demographic transition"? How could we ever expect to have high wages in any country that becomes globally integrated with a globe having a vast oversupply of labor? Why, in a globally integrated world, would any nation have an incentive to reduce its birth rate?

Global economic integration and growth, far from bringing a halt to population growth, will be the means by which the consequences of overpopulation in the third world are generalized to the globe as a whole. They will be the means whereby the practice of constraining births in some countries will be eliminated by a demographic version of the "race to the bottom," rather than spread by demonstration of its benefits. In the scramble to attract capital and jobs, there will be a standards-lowering competition to keep wages low and to reduce any social, safety, and environmental standards that raise costs.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Geez anonymous, most of your pragmatic people who create jobs and wealth are still sucking on the state tit. Not just corporate welfare of which there is a lot, but they use the infrastructure that has been paid for out of my taxes. In fact difficult to manage without it right? God, France might have its faults but at least it values people who think. New Zealand and Australia not so much.

jh said...

Chris Trotter @ 13:26

There is a rift in the social sciences between those who believe in the blank slate versus evolutionary psychology (sociobiology).

and you have academics like John Moore (Bryce Edwards blog) who believe in open borders and therefore (as far as I can see) negate an ecological paradigm of human population.

Here is a good example of the intelligentsia being dumb on a very basic issue:
But I can tell you without a doubt that you'd struggle to find an expert with a deeper understanding of immigration than Paul Spoonley. And while I don't entirely agree with Shamubeel on this, if you know anything about him you'll know it's preposterous to suggest he's not on top of the data and analysis on this. He eats it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Disagree all you like, but don't be under any illusion that those men aren't amongst the best read in the country on this matter (and have given it the most thought).
Appeal to authority fallacy (Eaqub and Spoonley versus Reddell and Brash)

Anonymous said...

And thank you, Chris Trotter@13:26, for demonstrating the condescension of left-wingers towards the "ordinary" people. Newsflash comrade, their vote is as good as yours.

Your reality may have "a left-wing bias", for people in the real world their reality has a pragmatic bias. And yes, "these are the sort of people who create jobs and wealth" - think on that.

Anonymous said...

Chris ,pragmatic and ordinary folk are not ill educated and even if they were ill educated, then their contribution could and probably is more important than a state tit sucker who seem to be more interested in giving opinion, which is not evidenced-based or peer reviewed, on a matter whose out-come they are probably guessing. Pragmatic and ordinary folk, educated or not, live in the real world and that is why so many theoretical Academics seek their advice. I do not know who gave the observation that "reality has a left -wing bias" but they were clearly wrong, NZ is not in trouble that is why Kiwis are returning in ever increasing numbers and other people from across the world are clamouring to come here. Finally for every Academic who claims one certainty there is another who claims exactly the opposite. Meanwhile tit-sucking goes on with gusto while real people get on with the job at hand.

Fern said...

FYI, Chris, this column did not appear in the Taranaki Daily News today, Fri 9th Oct, as stated. They published the one about R&B entertainer Chris Brown.

Bushbaptist said...

Well said Chris at 13.26. Rightwingers have tunnel vision and the more Right they are the narrower that vision.

Good Govts' set everything in place for Capitalists to thrive (communications, transport links and so on). Without that infrastructure Capitalism would not survive or even get started. Academics who are the thinkers of our modern societies, are the ones who got the things going that make our lives so much better. Businesses tend to make our lives worse and so must be regulated. Remember that Capitalism has no morals, it just is.

What gets to me with the TPPA is the secrecy that surrounds it and nothing is allowed to leak out until years after it has been signed off. Why the secrecy? If there is nothing wrong with it then why is it not open to scrutiny? People who do things in secret are up to no good!!

Chris Trotter said...

To: Fern

Thanks for letting me know.

Anonymous said...

Chris to yourself and the commenters, I am anonymous 13.05 and14.22I, I am not a conservative, I have worked for socialism for most of my life, I did not have a good education, mostly because of war and bombs on my city, Birmingham, England,1937-45, Factory underground night shelters and being allowed to fall asleep in the warmth of the classroom was part of my life. I did not have a good education, I was ill educated because of above. I learned the tables. I have been to the Soviet Union 1980s, the people had it 10 times worse, You and your commenter's are living in cloud cuckoo and throwing shit at the world and NZ, if you make something you must be able to sell it a fact of life since the world began. The market down the street ( the world ) allows you to do that despite the spivs and protesters. o

Bushbaptist said...

Some links or you to peruse:

"Yet rather than acting as fair and neutral intermediaries, it has become clear that the arbitration industry has a vested interest in perpetuating an investment regime that prioritises the rights of investors at the expense of democratically elected national governments and sovereign states. They have built a multimillion-dollar, self-serving industry, dominated by a narrow exclusive elite of law firms and lawyers whose interconnectedness and multiple financial interests raise serious concerns about their commitment to deliver fair and independent judgements. As a result, the arbitration industry shares responsibility for an international investment regime that is neither fair, nor independent, but deeply flawed and business-biased."

And two YT videos on the ISDS subject:

peterlepaysan said...

The Tppa has nothing to do with free trade. It has everything to do with geo politics.

America muscled into negotiations so it could consodilate on a Pacific chess board against Russian and Asian influences.

US is using US corporate muscle rather than military muscle.

NZ has now effectively become another state of the USA. Satrap might be more apt.

Mind you the combined lunacy of US internal politics might yet veto this agreement.

The overwhelming advantage of corporate USA controlling the Pacific rather than military might would be enormously appealiing.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

greywarbler said...

Anonymous at 17.47
You are an individual with experience and something to say. So why be another Anonymous? It may be the easiest way to classify yourself on the site, but why don't you and others append your pen-name or key-name at the end. Sign off with your favourite pseudo and we'll know it's you with another personal point, good or doh! Chris knows you but to others you are just invisible man who doesn't care enough to append a house-name - like Dunroamin?

Victor said...

I would agree that the TPPA, like other trade treaties the US is currently sponsoring, is far more about protecting the perceived interests of investors than about the opening of markets to a freer exchange of goods and services.

It follows that, once the US got involved, the talks setting up the TPPA were bound to end in a further fraying of New Zealand's sovereignty, in exchange for very limited (but not wholly negligible) trading advantages.

So what would have happened if New Zealand had never been part of this process or had baled out at the last minute?

The TPPA process would surely have continued without us and we would gradually have found ourselves excluded from the markets of TPPA signatory countries.

Meanwhile, our sovereignty, already badly breached by the China trade deal, would have been further compromised through even greater dependence on the Chinese market.

In other words, there was no good outcome possible, merely a choice of bad outcomes. We don't yet have all the facts but I'm not wholly convinced we've got the worst outcome imaginable.

But with not just Bernie but Hillary too ranging themselves against the agreement, I wonder if it has much of a future. Time alone will tell.

Pasquino said...

And as the Artic ice melts and the methane is released that will, if unchecked (how, ha ha?), cook us all, we set up a trade deal to make the carbon economy go faster and faster...

Where is the Wagner of this age..., to write the score of the final act?

Bushbaptist said...

More on the copyright rules:

Charles E said...

Intellectual snobs, is what Anon has just successfully labelled you, I reckon.
What baffles me is why the left spends so much time and effort these days attributing characteristics and motives to their foe. 'They're rich pricks'. "They never speak to ordinary people'. They are cold hearted swine driven by greed'. These brainless automatons'.
Why not try putting up a set of new policies for a better NZ. Get your act together on that and who know? Voters might just get interested and take you lot seriously. Currently you just come across as negative & haughty to the extent of madness. Like grumpy old men on steroids.

greywarbler said...

Charles E
"Currently you just come across as negative & haughty to the extent of madness. Like grumpy old men on steroids. " You comment on the Left calling out the right's bad traits. And stop there. Neither agreeing or disagreeing. Then you criticise the Left. Is it any wonder we may be driven to madness when there are superior, haughty fence-sitters like you passing judgment on us as hoi polloi. You don't care about the important matters that are driving us crazy, you just watch the passing parade with a smile.

You are the madman. And other critical and incisive adjectives and nouns that abound in any thesaurus, physical symbols of the amount of negative emotions that pass through human minds, by-passing the brain function.

Bushbaptist said...

Hmmm! Charlie boy, I would sooner be an intellectual snob than an egotistical, self-righteous one.

As for characteristics Apparently you never LISTEN to ordinary people just your own circle of comfortably off friends. Never called you or others like you a"Rich Prick" either. As for a "Cold-Hearted greedy swine" are you one such person? You would know. Perhaps you are a "Brainless automaton" again only you would know. Maybe you need to remove those blinkers and shades and take a look around the real world. Or is it that you have selective blindness? If you weren't affected by those maladies you would have seen the suggestions some have been making here and elsewhere about genuine Left policies.

After all, you were the one who categorically stated that Corbyn would never, ever win a UK election.

Loz said...

Australia's Trade Minister has published a list of trade changes that Australia's exporters are hoping to be of benefit. Assuming New Zealand is also party to similar conditions, it's possible to sketch the strengths and weaknesses of the agreement. Don't forget, New Zealand already has free trade agreements with half of the signatories (Australia, Brunei, Singapore, Chile, Malaysia and Taiwan).

Notably, in the exhaustive list of commodities and access changes to markets, access into the protected agriculture market of the United States is only mentioned three times, firstly as a quota increase of 9,000 tonnes of cheese, secondly as a doubling of the quota for sugar. The third reference is for safeguarding existing access of beef exports. As the US is currently unable to produce enough beef for its own consumption, it would appear as if there has been little given away by the US.

Potential agricultural trade benefits appear extremely limited. It's worth reading what the Australian's have published in entirety (purely to note what isn't in the agreement):

DAIRY: Tariffs to Japan cut on range of cheeses, new preferential access on extra $100 million of trade, new quota access for butter and skim milk powder. Mozzarella blended with Japanese cheese duty-free. Access for 9,000 more tonnes of cheese to US, tariff cut on milk powders and Swiss cheese. New preferential access into Mexico and Canada.

SEAFOOD: Tariffs to Canada and Peru cut on entry into force, Japan within 16 years and Mexico within 15 years.

In return, the local economy will be relinquished for takeover by foreign interests. All State owned entities would be forced to act "on the basis of commercial considerations" instead of any public service charter. It would appear that both the government and State Owned Entities may be sued for departure from the TPP. The nation may also be sued if legislature or judiciary act in any way that impacts profits of corporations.

Visa restrictions will almost certainly relaxed to allow corporations to be bring in foreign workers. The education sector are likely be opened to allow the entry of foreign education providers. Government contracts will be opened for foreign bids without further prejudice of favour toward local business.

Victor, you expressed your belief that "we would gradually have found ourselves excluded from the markets of TPP signatory countries." I can't agree, simply because after 30 years of neoliberalism, all of the nations already exist in an overlapping latticework of free trade agreements anyway. We hear how "40% of the world’s GDP" will be covered by the TPP although it’s not suggested that 32% of world GDP already occurs amongst the TPP nations with existing free trade agreements with the US. As glimpses of the agreement are coming to light it's looking more like a poison pill than a dead rat.

Of the 12 nations, two thirds have run their largest trade deficit (importing more than they exported) in the last decade. Australia, Canada and Peru have experienced their worst trade deficits on record this year. These indebted nations are expecting major cash inflows to result from other nations already importing more than they can afford. The only nations in the TPP not running record breaking deficits are Brunei, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, ironically, all of which have China as a more important trading partner than the US. Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia all maintain complex manufacturing industries to account for their prosperity… something New Zealand can never aspire to under the TPP.

It would appear to me that New Zealand has signed up on the basis of an "export led recovery" that can never occur. The price for that fantasy is a complete surrender of the nation itself.

Unknown said...

This adds some fuel to the fire re the make up of the intelligentsia:
Psychologists have demonstrated the value of diversity – particularly diversity of viewpoints – for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving. But one key type of viewpoint diversity is lacking in academic psychology in general and social psychology in particular: political diversity. This article reviews the available evidence and finds support for four claims: (1) Academic psychology once had considerable political diversity, but has lost nearly all of it in the last 50 years. (2) This lack of political diversity can undermine the validity of social psychological science via mechanisms such as the embedding of liberal values into research questions and methods, steering researchers away from important but politically unpalatable research topics, and producing conclusions that mischaracterize liberals and conservatives alike. (3) Increased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias mechanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majority’s thinking. (4) The underrepresentation of non-liberals in social psychology is most likely due to a combination of self-selection, hostile climate, and discrimination. We close with recommendations for increasing political diversity in social psychology.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I thought that it was fairly well established that Australia had had negative gains from their free trade agreement with the US?

greywarbler said...

Loz that was a fact-packed comment thank you. And it sounds like your analysis is deep from the understanding of those known facts. I don't have time to go through documents like the TPPA and take in all its ins and outs so it is helpful to read Chris and people like yourself. I hope you are as erudite as he is!

greywarbler said...

GS I think that things fairly well established about the TPPA and Australia will have been lost to the memories of most in the outpourings of sentiment and posturings about it. And people need to be wanting to assess the policies of TPPA critically to take note of such reports and then realise how we will likely have the same outcome.

That's why we have rugby in NZ. To give the general populace an excuse for not doing the hard yards through the wearisome words of the pollies promises and the legal loopholes to comprehend and behold the glittering prizes for the winners, in this economic propaganda olympics.

Robert M said...

In reality its a free trade treaty with the US better than the free trade treaties Australia had earlier secured with the US and Japan. It seems unlikely the US and Canadian market would be interested in our primitive milk powder anyway so its difficult to see what the point is in securing access for that product anyway in the North American market and attempting to do so as Tim Groser did, seems only likely to have alienated US and Canadian politicians, who need to ratify the TPPA. Undoubtedly the almost open access for meat products to the US and Japan is a great thing as is some access for diversified and enhanced milk products, cheese, yoghurt etc.
Unfortunately MFAT and the National Government strongly influenced by English and Groser have encouraged a lot of conversions of farms from land and beef farming to cows, which is an enviromentally unsustainable at present levels of production. The finance Minister Bill English has also been hostile to the alternative idea of a Tourist economy of 24/7 bars, cafes and a huge backpacker market for the 18-35 years and gap year students from the UK, Europe, USA and Brazil. English argues the wages from Tourism is low, but it does produce international skills and to do well requires international levels of management, presentation and contacts and therefore is more useful for developing employment than Bill English may think.

greywarbler said...

Robert M
You can stick 24/7 outlets for young tourists. We don't want to lose just about all our economy and stuff that sort of tourism in its place. It's faeces anywhere and vomit there and old Macdonald hasn't got a farm anymore because the banks encouraged him and his wife to take up an interest swop or buy 14 farms on tic. We want tourists that are high class, spend in NZ establishments waited on by NZs. And not just at the casinos. And it would be good if they weren't just wealthy ones scoping the country for nice properties to snap up.

I don't think that young tourists are different today than they used to be - getting as far on a $1 at others' expense as possible. Venice became popular to them, so attractive and charming and the place was put under pressure, as it always is there only worse with young impecunious freedom tourists littering and not spending much. Venice is expensive to run and can't stand too much of an influx of tourists. It would probably drown in faeces, as it's built on marshy areas that wouldn't flush out well I think.

In NZ we already have cow poo washed out from the pristine modern milking sheds or in-field systems through the soil. We don't need drunken yobboes having a good time urinating the booze sold to them at a nice profit and served by low paid young ones. That is not the market we want thank you very much. Interesting how poorly everything in NZ is run, including tourism. Everyone has their hands out for money but don't think about externalities. Down in Queenstown where people do spend high they can't get their shit together and put up attractive multi-storey studio flats for the hired help. It's so expensive that St Johns can't get staff to run all their ambulances - only 4 of over 10 have trained drivers, because accommodation is difficult to find and expensive.
Something happened recently and the tour people had to drive the ambulance with their client to the hospital as no-one else was available.

That might tell you why we don't have a well-paying tourism scene. We know how to talk but at heart it's she'll be right, wait for accidents before providing the back-up services. Anyway how many tourists can we absorb here without being over-run? I think visitors are in excess of inhabitants already.

Anonymous said...

Just for a bit of levity
Kim Dotcom and Tim Dotpomme went off to sea in a beautiful pea green boat
They took some money and Kims extradition summary with Tims LAST 5 pound note

So they sailed a away for a year for a year and a day trying to avoid the strife
Of living a life on the edge of knives to avoid divorce of their wives

Because what the got from Johns dirty plot was really too much for them both
So Tim got off to his ambassadors plot
And Kim sailed to an undisclosed home

Anonymous said...

Since Key has been the idiots choice for PM we in this country have been living in a rabbit run
Wake up hop around eat grass (a euphemism for what ever you want it to be) try and distinguish the sounds of safety from those of danger and go about our day with nothing else on the agenda and dont get shot going home

pat said...

'Down in Queenstown where people do spend high they can't get their shit together and put up attractive multi-storey studio flats for the hired help. It's so expensive that St Johns can't get staff to run all their ambulances - only 4 of over 10 have trained drivers, because accommodation is difficult to find and expensive.'

sort of begs the question why those with the wherewithal to reside in Queenstown dont volunteer to serve their own community...dosnt it?

Victor said...

OK Loz, you've convinced me.

I agree that the web of trade agreements linking countries around the world would reduce the chance of a non-TPPA signatory being gradually excluded from signatories' markets, as would have tended to be the case prior to the current age of globalism.

And, just for the record, I hadn't argued that TPPA membership would lead to a cornucopia of new export income, merely that membership might be necessary to protect what little we already had, a view that I now reject.

I probably remain more "export-orientated" than you. But that's an argument for another day.

Best regards