NZ-US Council’s TPPA Study Lacks Credibility, Shows Need for Informed Debate

A study released by the NZ-US Council today to coincide with its 10-year anniversary suggests a multi-billion dollar bonanza to New Zealand from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Professor Jane Kelsey, a critic of the agreement, called the move a “tired and discredited tactic that aims to garner support for an increasingly unpopular negotiation and avoid a real inquiry into what it means for New Zealand ”.

“The study doesn’t even talk about New Zealand except in passing or among the 23 countries listed in the tables”.

“The economic modeling it uses bears no relation to the real world of the negotiations. The US government still insists it won’t give New Zealand any market access for dairy products. With an election in November, that’s not about to change”.

“Even staunch supporters of free trade have strongly criticised the econometric modeling used in such studies, because they ignore the costs and assume the best possible of outcomes,” she said.

Australian Productivity Commission Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements in 2010 said optimistic estimates in Australian studies had inflated the expected economic gains, ‘the economic value of Australia’s preferential BRTAs has been oversold’ (p.xxviii).

Today’s report claims to have adopted the Productivity Commission’s guidelines, yet it still concedes that ‘the scenarios used in this study to analyze ambitious paths of future agreements… might strike some as unrealistic’ (p.4).

The Australian Productivity Commission also said governments should avoid provisions that allow investors to sue the government directly lack a clear economic rationale and carry policy and financial risks. Intellectual property provisions should only be included after studying their economic impacts. The NZ-US Council report ignores any issues.

“If the NZ-US Council really believes this is so good for New Zealand it should urge the government to drop the shroud of secrecy, release the current draft texts and its negotiating mandate, and support the parliamentary hearing that it has so far vetoed. Only then can we make an informed and balanced assessment of its implications for our country and our future”, said Professor Kelsey.

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