TPPWatch Action Bulletin #10 – 13 May 2012

It has been a great couple of weeks. While not counting our chickens, the tide seems to be turning, with an increasing amount of mainstream media coverage raising awareness and debate on the TPPA and a bit of “softening” on the deal by its champions.

Lots of Action at the Dallas Round

As TPP negotiations got underway in Dallas on 8 May, Public Citizen launched an animated video “TPP: The Ultimate Corporate Power Tool”, a parody based on the classic Jackson 5 song “ABC”. Although it’s US focused it is a great clip and the message works for us too.The ‘Yes men’ gatecrashed the official reception and presented the US negotiator with the ‘Corporate Power Tool Award. They replaced the hotel’s toilet paper. There was a big rally, and actions by the Occupy movement. ‘’TPP – Why so secret?” was projected on the side of the hotel where the negotiations are happening.

Inside, the US has chopped the already minimalist ‘stakeholder presentations’. The US Trade Representative (the Trade Minister), a former Dallas Mayor, turned receipt of a petition of 24,000 people demanding release of the TPPA text into evidence of their openness to ‘stakeholders’ views’! He dismissed a letter from 30 law professors demanding an end to the secrecy, saying there has been an unprecedented level of openness.

Critics registered as stakeholders are using the limited space to  challenge the agressive demands on the table, mainly from the US, and provide increasingly wary negotiators with analyses and proposals to help them to resist these demands. The rally was streamed live into the room of ‘stakeholder’ tables and onto a big screen!

Open Letter from Lawyers says ‘No Investor- Enforcement in TPP’

More than 100 jurists from NZ and other countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, including eminent judges Sir Ted Thomas and Sir Owen Woodhouse, and former Speaker of the House Margaret Wilson, sent an open letter to the negotiators calling for the right of investors to sue governments directly to be excluded from the TPP.  Lawyers can still sign on. A specialist website has been created with background information. There was lots of media, including Bryan Gould in the NZ Herald, Jane Kelsey on TV3 and, with Bill Rosenberg, on Court Report. The Herald followed with a bizarre editorial. The mainstream media debate has begun!

Hikoi, Asset Sales and TPPA

The Aotearoa Not for Sale Hikoi stopped in Johnsonville on 3 May to visit the electorate office of Peter Dunne, who holds the key vote on the energy asset sales bill. The Ohariu-Belmont group is keeping the pressure on him, but he doesn’t seem inclined to bow to this. The next day the hikoi was joined by a crowd of over 5000 as they marched to Parliament. After representatives from Labour, NZ First, Green and Mana parties spoke to the crowd, a series of women spoke very eloquently, including Francie, a previously silent immigrant of 20 years, who has been galvanised by the Johnsonville campaign.

Protests Continue in Wellington

Zombies danced outside the Wellington Stock Exchange on Thursday May 10 drawing attention to privatisations, asset sales and the TPP. A very long anti-TPP banner imitated the rolling stock exchange neon information that circles the building endlessly.

Asset Sales Petition

The petition against asset sales is available everywhere. Links were clearly made to the TPPA at the launch at Turnbull House, Wellington on 10 May. Make sure you sign. You could volunteer to help with signatures.

SOE Minister Guarantees no Investor-State disputes in TPPA

In a Radio NZ interview Tony Ryall said “you can be quite sure that the government is not going to agree to provisions that mean any foreign company can come and litigate everyday governing decisions by the New Zealand government to the detriment of the people of New Zealand. Why would you agree to that?”. So we now expect him to join the campaign to against investor-state disputes in the TPPA and all other FTAs …

TPPA on Intellectual Property threatens Sovereignty

A blog by Susan Chalmers of Internet NZ, from the TPPA negotiations in Dallas, took issue with the trade-off John Key outlined at the NZ-US Council: if NZ gets better access to US dairy and meat markets, the US gets to change NZ’s intellectual property laws to suit, namely, the film and music industries. NZ is then effectively stripped of its sovereignty when it comes to shaping aspects of its own IP policy.

NZ-US Council Conference Downplays Prospects for TPPA

The NZ-US Council’s 10th anniversary conference at the Sky City Casino was dominated by the TPP negotiations – not surprising, as it was formed to push for a NZ-US FTA. A report that the TPPA would boost the NZ economy by $2 billion wasn’t taken seriously. An American business lobbyist gave a sober assessment of progress in the TPP talks, citing a ”chasm” between leaders’ ambitions and their negotiators’ positions and asking ”How can any product, service or core rule be excluded from the final package by one or more countries without the house of cards falling? We do not believe it can.” John Key talked down the supposed benefits and timeline. Former Labour Trade Minister Phil Goff was still pushing his old pro-FTA line. Seems a bit out of touch.

What next? – Lots of people are asking what they can do to spread awareness and  mobilise more people. That is great! We know people need information and resources, but we also want to encourage people to think about what they and their networks can do and how we can support them.

Please share TPP activities or good articles: contact Mary Ellen oconstance@gmail.com (the bulletin) and/or Hannah tppwatch@gmail.com (the website); Facebook page, Stop Stealing New Zealand and websites www.tppwatch.org and tppdigest.org 

Thanks! Mary-Ellen O’Connor and Jane Kelsey on behalf of TPPWatch

Download this bulletin as a Word or PDF file

View previous bulletins here: Bulletin 9, Bulletin 8, Bulletin 7, Bulletin 6, Bulletin 5, Bulletin 4, Bulletin 3, Bulletin 2, Bulletin 1

Add your name to the list of people opposed to the TPPA here. (To receive this bulletin by email tick the box at the bottom of the form)

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