New Zealand's public health system is not up for negotiation in Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade talks, and government drug-buying agency Pharmac completely falls under the New Zealand public health system banner, Trade Minister Tim Groser says.
Asked about what assurances he could provide on Pharmac during a briefing to media on TPP talks held in Honolulu last week, Groser said he would not carry out negotiations through the media, but that he had one answer to Pharmac questions which he had already given.
"We have laid down the fundamentals of a position which says our public health system is not up for negotiation, not part of any trade negotiation, and I can’t conceive of any New Zealand government that would change that view," Groser said.
"Pharmac is an incredibly valuable institution that provides high quality medicines to many New Zealanders at very, very highly subsidised, reasonable prices. The fundamentals of that model are not up for negotiation," he said.
"But to go beyond that and answer the obvious follow-up questions, I do not consider, as the New Zealand Trade Minister, to be in New Zealand’s interests and I will not negotiate it through the media.”
Put to him that he just said Pharmac was not up for negotiation, Groser replied: “You heard me correctly.”
Asked whether Pharmac completely fell under the banner of ‘New Zealand’s public health system,’ Groser replied:
“In my opinion it does.”