MFAT says TPP effectively prevents future ban on foreign buying of property; TPP rules also apply to non-TPP countries such as China; TPP also doubles threshold for Overseas Investment Act rules; Labour worried

Labour Finance Spokesman Grant Robertson. Photo by Lynn Grieveson for Hive News.

By Bernard Hickey

As the details emerge from Tuesday morning's Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, it's becoming clear it will prevent any future Government from banning foreign buyers of land and existing houses.

The Government is yet to highlight the effects of the TPP on foreign investment, but MFAT spelt it out clearly in this briefing note on the TPP, which said it would block any future ban on foreign buyers of property and would double the threshold for Overseas Investment Act rules on the assessment of the experience and character of buyers of 'sensitive' land purchases to NZ$200 million.

MFAT said existing regulations inconsistent with TPP obligations had been 'carved' out of the agreement, which would allow Australia, for example, to keep its existing ban on foreign buyers of existing properties. But it means New Zealand's current open door approach could not be changed, even if there was a change of Government.

"New Zealand will therefore continue to screen foreign purchases of sensitive land, including farmland, through the Overseas Investment Office and require that these meet a “benefit to New Zealand” test," MFAT said.

"New Zealand also requires foreigners who make investments in significant business assets to meet business experience and good character tests. Under TPP, the threshold above which an investor must get this approval will increase from NZ$100 million to NZ$200 million," it said.

"The non-discrimination provisions in TPP would prevent the Government banning TPP nationals from buying property in New Zealand. New Zealand retains the ability, however, to impose some types of new, discriminatory taxes on property."

"Some provisions in the TPP investment chapter – including the higher, NZ$200 million screening threshold – will also flow through to New Zealand’s FTAs with China, Chinese Taipei and Korea, in which there are “most favoured nation” provisions."

This appears to rule out a future ban on foreign buyers, including China and other non-TPP members, and doubles the character and experience test threshold for Overseas Investment Office approval to NZ$200 million. But it doesn't rule out the stamp duty or land tax on foreign buyers that Prime Minister John Key floated in July. See our article on that from then.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said he did not believe the Government had sought during the negotiations to preserve a future Government's right to impose a ban.

"With these deals, you start with your current domestic positions and it's much harder to carve out new positions than maintain existing positions, and Australia had a long-standing position, which I would argue and most commentators would agree has not worked," Joyce told Morning Report.

"My understanding is they will be able to keep that position," he said.

Labour equivocates, while Green and NZ First still opposed

Labour has yet to declare whether it fully supports or opposes the deal, but Finance Spokesman Grant Robertson came out the strongest of the various Labour commenters against the deal, saying it failed two of Labour's bottom lines for support -- whether it gave meaningful gains for dairy and whether it allowed bans on foreign buying of property.

Robertson said the TPP failed those two tests and focused in particular on the initial MFAT comments on what the TPP meant for future foreign buyer restrictions.

"National needs to be clear whether this deal will stop a future government from further restricting land and housing purchases by overseas buyers," Robertson said.

"Early reports indicate that this has been traded away. Giving New Zealanders a fair go at owning our land and fulfilling the Kiwi dream of owning a home are core principles for Labour," he said.

"We reserve the right to regulate and legislate to make this happen."

 However, Robertson stopped short of saying Labour would oppose it, or try to reverse it in Government.

"On first impressions, this deal falls well below National’s rhetoric of a gold-standard trade pact, and leaves many questions unanswered," he said.

Joyce said Labour had also opposed a similar provision in New Zealand's trade deal with Korea that locked in New Zealand to not banning property sales, but then voted in favour of the legislation.

Joyce defended foreign buyers investing in existing houses.

"If you're going to welcome investment in housing ... let's say somebody buys an existing house, they buy it off a New Zealander, a New Zealander goes off and builds a new houses - what's the crime?," he said.

Robertson later said Joyce's comments were a "damning indictment on a Government that appears to care little for our sovereignty or for the wealth of future generations."

“Under the carve-outs they negotiated, Australia can still restrict foreign buyers of its homes. Malaysia will still ban foreign ownership of affordable housing, Singapore and Vietnam will still restrict foreign investment," Robertson said.

“But it seems that in the Government’s failed attempt to gain better access to dairy markets around the world we have given away the right to protect our land. Mr Joyce’s arrogant dismissal of this fundamental error in the negotiations by saying non-resident foreign investors will ‘grow housing supply’ is simply incorrect," he said.

“We have an Auckland housing market where too many Kiwis are shut out by high prices and speculators who are paying far less for their loans overseas are given an unfair advantage over those who fully commit to our country. This was always about more than just trade. This is about retaining the right to govern in our own interests."

'Tenants in our own land'

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters attacked the doubling of the threshold for the character and experience tests for foreign buyers, saying it made it a lot easier for foreign investors to buy businesses.

“We have foolishly agreed to the lifting of the background check threshold opening us up even more to dubious investment practices,” Peters said.

“That threshold of NZ$100 million was already far too high and the doubling of it proves just how much international corporates, through puppet negotiators, have been able to circumvent the will of sovereign nations," he said.

“At a time when huge sums of ill-gotten money are transferred around the world, and our checks through the Overseas Investment Office are already weak, we should be raising the bar against unscrupulous money merchants, not lowering it."

Green Co-Leader James Shaw said the TPP would make it more likely that New Zealanders would become tenants in their own land.

“The TPPA is a bad deal because the costs will be worn by everyday New Zealanders while the benefits will go to private companies,” Shaw said.

“New Zealanders are more likely to become tenants in our own land, because the TPPA slackens the overseas investment rules and takes away our right to limit overseas speculators from buying up our land."

(Updated with comments from Joyce confirming TPP blocks future bans on foreign buying and Robertson response.)

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment or click on the "Register" link below a comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current Comment policy is here.

63 Comments

If we have to accept property purchases by overseas buyers, at least make it worthwhile to the exchequer.
Say 20% stamp duty , forfeiture to the crown if avoided/evaded using proxies etc.and payable again for any transfer of ownership exceeding 25% to any other overseas entity. To rub it in add an annual tax on capital value.

100% capital gains tax plus a 50% stamp duty on purchase and sale would work as a ban...

It's a bit disappointing but appears we could create a synthetic ban using tough disincentive taxes (if Government was so inclined - which its not - so a moot point)

Doesn't that mean the government could then be sued for the lost profits?

It's coming - not much choice :-
First glance .. seems JK has painted himself into a corner where the only exit door escape route is Stamp Duty and or Land Tax .. well that door's been right there and open for years .. but JK has been biding his time ... and ... biding his time .. and .. biding his time .. should I go thru or not .. what's out there? .. might be a dangerous jungle .. hello Nicky .. how're those SHA's going?

............and what of the risk that after an attempt at an imposition of such a tax we are dragged in front of the not so independant tribunal who rules that such a tax amounts to a foreign buyer ban - and is thus is in breach?

Why should we have to clutch at a possible tax rule to protect our own land? This is a ludicrous attempt to to reassure.

Bernard Hickey links above to his 27 July 2015 article of JK's address, in which JK states he "can do" - no breach ... do we believe him or not?

[ Lets keep the extreme smears off this site, please. Ed ]

up
10

Perfect example of loss of sovereignty.

If I were China, US or Japan etc. then I'd be pushing for a widespread buy-up of NZ land and assets. Why not? They've got the capital (and if they don't they can just print it anyway).

Accumulation by dispossession all using notional capital.

Its unfair, a "David & Goliath scenario" NZ is a small economy that can not compete with wealthy foreign investors.

Hmm, TPPA might yet die a death,

"The TPP looks better than it did, which infuriates much of Congress" so the vested interests did not get enough, so congress might just vote no. I can but hope.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/06/tpp-take-two/?module=BlogPos...

FYI: Updated with comments from Joyce confirming TPP blocks future bans on foreign buying and Robertson's response.

9. Investment
"[..] TPP Parties adopt a “negative-list” basis, meaning that their markets are fully open to
foreign investors, except where they have taken an exception (non-conforming measure)
in one of two country-specific annexes: (1) current measures on which a Party accepts
an obligation not to make its measures more restrictive in the future and to bind any
future liberalization."
[..]

And you can betcha NZ hasn't taken any exceptions in its country-specific annex.

The more we become aware of the text, the more it looks to me like NZ was a pawn for the US in those negotiations

It will be interesting to see the annexes, which are so far mentioned in chapter 8, 9, and 10:
.
"TPP Parties have country-specific exceptions to some of these rules in
two annexes attached to the TPP: (1) current measures on which a Party accepts an
obligation not to make its measures more restrictive in the future and to bind any future
liberalization, and (2) measures and policies on which a country retains full discretion in
the future."

up
14

"If you're going to welcome investment in housing ... let's say somebody buys an existing house, they buy it off a New Zealander, a New Zealander goes off and builds a new houses - what's the crime?," he said

Try this.......

the New Zealander has three kids. the competition from foreign buyers has put the house price up, but not their wages. The corrupt imported funny money is pricing young locals out...That man is a fool.

Alternatively the New Zealander, with that pocket full of cash takes off and goes to Queensland's Gold Coast and settles there - net result NZ all downside, no benefit, loss of a citizen, gains a foreigner - Australia gets all the benefit

Just going through the MFAT summary now:

"7. Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
In developing TBT rules, the TPP Parties have agreed on transparent, non-discriminatory
rules for developing technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment
procedures, while preserving TPP Parties’ ability to fulfill legitimate objectives. They
agree to cooperate to ensure that technical regulations and standards do not create
unnecessary barriers to trade. To reduce costs for TPP businesses, especially small
businesses, TPP Parties agree to rules that will facilitate the acceptance of the results of
conformity assessment procedures from the conformity assessment bodies in the other
TPP Parties, making it easier for companies to access TPP markets. Under the TPP,
Parties are required to allow for the public to comment on proposed technical regulations,
standards, and conformity assessment procedures to inform their regulatory processes
and to ensure traders understand the rules they will need to follow. They also will ensure
a reasonable interval between publication of technical regulations and conformity
assessment procedures, and their entry into force, so that businesses have sufficient
time to meet the new requirements. In addition, the TPP includes annexes related to
regulation of specific sectors to promote common regulatory approaches across the TPP
region. These sectors are cosmetics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, information and
communications technology products, wine and distilled spirits, proprietary formulas for
prepackaged foods and food additives, and organic agricultural products."
.
I think this means that if we, as a nation, want to strengthen our rules on, let's say, testing on animals of cosmetics, or having a food label on wine, we will have to give other TPP members the time to be able to comply with our laws and regs.
These things will become very slow to push through, and will inevitable fall to the lowest common denominator.
We all know where the US stands on GMO foods etc. We won't be able to demand proper labelling. I suppose the only way we'll know for sure what we're putting in our bodies, is to buy as local as possible.

think Brussels

Yes, but if introduction of GM crops is widespread, the pollen contaminates neighbouring non-GM crops and the farmer whose crops have been contaminated can be sued by Monsanto for breach of patent.

I believe that story has been debunked? The breach of patent one.

And we have a winner. and it is Rastus.

About time someone woke up to the reality of life.

(Funnily enough I had a pup called Rastus, when I was a kid....nothing personal, just a true observation...and it just happens to fit...my analogy.)......

Here is another Rastus....observation that is.

You have all been sold a pup, got a bitch and it was pregnant and you will have to live for the rest of your life paying for the privilege of looking after the vets Bills...cleaning up behind them, and shall we call the little darlings, Johnnie, Helen, Yellen,and if a Shitzou.. maybe XI or Won, maybe Afghan....maybe another Greek gift. Maybe an Apple for the teacher. Fair Trade...eh.

Unless you like indenture and ineptitude,don't buy it...

The Pregnant Pup. TPP for short. But the offspring, forever.

They sold your other Assets from under you, now a free gift in the making.

Your kids will be ecstatic.

(No room in the big house, a little kennel at the bottom of the Garden. If lucky.?

If you are so worried, simply choose not to sell your land? Or simply accept the highest offer from a New Zealand resident forgoing the difference.

I listened carefully to Stephen Joyce but he actually could not find anything to say, when he was asked on Morning Report what the advantages of TPP were. His responses were like 'it's better' and "It's good". But he could not come up with any content or advantages. The question stumped him.

up
10

It's so cool to be a landowner, bummer if you missed out,were born to late, or started a real business.

I was born in the 90s and my parents aren't wealthy. Property ownership is a choice that you have to make in your late teens and then commit to through to your mid / late twenties ( which I have yet to reach ). Choose property over holidays / the latest gadgets / parties / a car ( till you can afford to buy 1 cash outright with annual running costs including fuel below 1% of your annual income ). Walk an hour to uni (or work) instead of taking public transport or parking, save your student loan & choose part time employment instead of "a life" whilst studying.
The world is your oyster, anyone from New Zealand can do well, you simply have to decide what you want to achieve and set your priorities accordingly.

P.S. concerning real business, I've tried but from personal experience our phenomenally high minimum wage tends to kill "real business" pretty early on, so I've personally elected to settle for earning a wage (given that wages are disproportionately lucrative in NZ) while investing in property for now.

I bet if you had to live on it you wouldn't call the minimum wage absurd. Not to mention raising a family on that miserable income.

Btw, could you have bought your first home under the new Reserve Bank LVR, regulations? I think not.

Don't procreate until you can afford to raise a family?

Many people can never afford to raise a family based on your criteria sadr001. We can't all be politicians, lawyers, accountants, business management, architects, and I.T. professionals. Someone still has to clean your office toilets, vacuum your plush office carpet, and wipe your butt when ill health or age renders you incapable.

up
13

While there is truth that hard work is important to attain ownership and wealth, many New Zealanders are not going to be in the position to command high enough incomes to ever purchase property in New Zealand's major centres regardless of their work ethos. The myth that everyone 'can up-skill' to become wealthy is just that - a myth. The fact is we are always going to need people working the 'blue-collar' jobs as these people are critical to helping society function. Unfortunately many of these people will be shut out of ownership due to current policies favoring those already with assets and pre-existing wealth.

The whole “level playing field” and "anyone can do blah blah blah" is a convenient story for people who don’t want to face the fact that they are likely much more privileged - and therefore much more likely to succeed - than others due to their upbringing or other life circumstances. There are always exceptions to this rule but they are called 'exceptions' for a reason.

Life is never going to be fair but the way the scales have tipped these days mean that the majority of young New Zealanders are getting royally screwed. Good luck to them.

"Property ownership is a choice that you have to make in your late teens and then commit to through to your mid / late twenties ( which I have yet to reach........."

Ever asked yourself why this should be? Is it right, is it neccesary? Does it need to be this way? Is it a manufactured situation? Why is everything else dropping in value? Why are politicans allowed to set property rules and own rentals? Why did past generations protest on social issues.... but these days just protest data caps?

I'm a firm advocate of much lower MP pay ( ideally the max would be the lower of 20% of an individual's pay in the year prior to that individual becoming an MP or $50,000. That number being an arbitrary number that I "feel" is low enough to discourage people from becoming MPs simply for the money)
Different people (in different generations) have different priorities, why should your priorities ("social issue") be forced on others?

Why should your 'neoliberal ideals' be forced on others?

They shouldn't be. Hence the status quo that we have now which reflects the priorities of the majority of Kiwis and the amount of effort they are willing to expand to achieve those priorities.

Do you know what happens when MPs and public officials pay is low sadr001? They become more susceptible to kickbacks on government contracts and bribery by special interest groups. The last thing we need is for our public sector being more corrupt than it already is.

up
15

you simply have to decide what you want to achieve and set your priorities accordingly.

And borrow to the eyeballs to get there!

But hey, if nothing else, adding to the current account deficit is a new form of patriotism, JK/Wall Street style.

Ain't it the truth?

“Politicians are resourceful people. Their political skill lies partly in proposing solutions that keep their constituents happy without venturing into the rocky terrain of real reform. In the case of inequality, politicians know intuitively that households ultimately care most about their consumption over time; incomes are only a means to obtaining that consumption stream. A smart politician can see that if somehow the consumption of middle-class householders keeps rising, if they can afford a new car every few years and the occasional exotic holiday, and best of all, a new house, they might pay less attention to their stagnant monthly paychecks. And one way to expand consumption, even while incomes stagnate, is to enhance access to credit.” Read more

Yes, but this didn't happen yesterday.

A simple way to state Krippner’s thesis is follows. In the 1970s, politicians got tired of fighting over who would get what, and just turned those decisions over to the depoliticized market. This is known as ‘financialization’. Then political leaders didn’t have to say “no” anymore to any constituency group, they could just say “blame the market”. It’s very much akin to the rationalization for inequality one hears from elites these days, that it’s globalization and technology, as if those are just natural trends with no human agency or decision-making involved.

"To state her thesis in a less glib manner, it is as follows. The state, in the 1960s, was confronted with three interrelated problems – social, fiscal, and legitimacy crises – and that financialization provided an inadvertent mechanism to deal with them. After World War II, the United States was the only industrial base standing, so its corporations had pricing power and could pass on labor costs to the rest of the world. Social problems could be solved with the standard American lubricant of growth and then dividing the spoils among the groups grasping for them. But as American competitiveness declined in the 1950s and 1960s, and due to the “guns and butter” strategy of LBJ’s financing of the Vietnam War, this growth model began failing. The result was that inflation kicked up, and inflation provided the means by which the state could effectively deny resources to constituency groups without explicitly doing so. In other words, dealing with fewer resources created severe pressure on the New Deal liberal architecture of decision-making, which first revealed itself as inflation."
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/02/matt-stoller-greta-krippners-capi...

Ah, but a lot of it did happen almost just 'yesterday' - as the chart here exemplifies;

http://www.elliottwave.com/affiliates_pr/archives/2015/08/31/Quantitativ...

Not that what you've posted is wrong - it's just that the recent ramp up is what really sent us past the point of no return.

QE is meaningless. At Davos this year the head of Spain's largest bank acknowledged that the banks role in the transmission mechanism of the Central Bank's monetary policy had broken down and they were no longer lending. It doesn't matter how many bonds the banks get from the Central Bank. This is no longer their limiting factor. They are happy as long as the Central Bank pays them interest on their excess reserves which they hold overnight.

" It has typically been argued that the interest rate paid by central banks on required reserve balances effectively compensates depository institutions for the implicit tax that reserve requirements impose on them, while the interest rate paid on excess balances provides the central bank with an additional tool for conducting monetary policy. Central banks differ, however, in the strategies they use to implement the rates paid on excess reserves. For example, the ECB does not pay interest on excess reserves directly but instead offers a deposit facility where banks can place excess reserves overnight. The Fed, by contrast, pays interest on depository institutions' excess balances directly."
http://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2012/12/why-or-why-not-keep...

The rate may not be high but considering how much is being held its good little earner for the banks and risk free to boot.

what a sad world if everybody lived like you. What about going to uni, having few parties, studying things that actually open your mind, travel the world, settle down get a decent job you actually like, a kid a wife a place to live?

What about our children sad001?
Do you care if our future generations are completely out-purchased buy overseas investors?
Or is your only concern how much money you can make today?
Do you understand empathy for those who currently struggle?
Do you care for the young and future generations?
I think you only care about yourself.

Choices have consequences, choosing luxuries now will likely result in lower total wealth later. I still maintain that any NZ citizen who chooses to can be modestly wealthy if they choose to be. Many advanced societies (such as Germany) have fairly low home ownership rates yet still function as a society. Complaining won't make anything better, hard work will.

up
12

...and so said the master to the slave.

If you think hard work alone is a guarantee for wealth, I know of a few million African women who would disagree with you.

Hence why I qualified my statements, limiting them to NZ citizens. NZ citizenship entails a whole host of advantages that are sufficient when combined with working smart and hard to generate wealth.

[ Please keep the personal abuse off any comment stream. Ed ]

why should it be restricted purely to those who "work smart"? According to Paul Callahan, farm workers generated $300,000 p/y in revenue per worker, but you can be sure they don't earn anywhere near that.

up
15

Wow what an indictment on the current greed thinking in NZ...

I have no doubt you worked hard and made sacrifices but you fail to acknowledge the "luck/timing" element in your "success"

I also brought property approx 10+ years ago when a like for like property cost a quarter of what is does now = (good luck and timing )

Given that wages have barely moved in that time and the new first home buyers now also compete against a massive amount of foreign buyers that we did not to have to do you honestly believe they can pay 4 x as much and get into the market the same way??? Absolute unadulterated nonsense...most couldn't afford the deposit now, let alone service the mortgage that is 4 x what you and I faced...
Lets not kid ourselves - We have created no "wealth" at all with property price inflation - we have merely transferred it from the younger generation to us! They pay through the nose for our properties when we did not in relative terms!

I have no issue with anyone looking after their future within the rules (so good on you and me) BUT to come up with the "meritocracy" argument that "you too can do it if you try hard enough and forgo having an iphone or trips overseas" when the numbers clearly show it is infinitely harder is a nonsense... I truly feel for the new generations and what they face for a basic human right - shelter.

Marx's theories about society, economics and politics—the collective understanding of which is known as Marxism—hold that human societies progress through class struggle: a conflict between an ownership class that controls production and a dispossessed labouring class that provides the labour for production. States, Marx believed, were run on behalf of the ruling class and in their interest while representing it as the common interest of all;[9] and he predicted that, like previous socioeconomic systems, capitalism produced internal tensions which would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system: socialism.

Socialism (in his conception) being ownership of the means of production by the labouring class (most likened to a cooperative in today's lingo). And (in his utopian ideal), socialism too would eventually be replaced by a stateless, classless society (which he termed, communism). I think of this concept in terms of the present day free movement of capital, but not free movement of people. I think he saw utopian society as the opposite, one where people moved freely and the accumulation of capital was a collective, as opposed to individual (i.e., class) distinguishing factor,

Unfortunately both those terms/words have since become quite markedly different forms of economic/social management from what Marx actually envisaged in his attempt at predicting a post-capitalist social organisation. In other words, the concepts got 'hijacked' by the ruling class/elites to my mind.

Marx was a second rate intellectual and plagiarized the work of superior intellects. He only attained such prominence, because the Bolsheviks were aided by the German High Command to overthrow a republican government which had already overthrown the Tsars, though were stupid enough to continue an unpopular war against the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany. One which had cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers.

"Be that as it may, and regardless of the misrepresentations that Marx inflicted on Proudhon, it is also fair to say that he developed many of the themes he appropriated from Proudhon (“One of Marx’s most important teachers and the one who laid the foundations for his subsequent development.”[20])."
http://anarchism.pageabode.com/pjproudhon/appendix-proudhon-and-marx.html

For this reason alone the TPP deal should be scrapped

It seems the herd remains insistent on drinking from the same location and that there is plenty of room upstream yet....Many, many tunnel visioned, delusional and entitled blame deflectors are lining up to be milked, that is where the wealth really comes from.

See, I'm not sure about this one:
.
"17. State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and Designated Monopolies
All TPP Parties have SOEs, which often play a role in providing public services and other
activities, but TPP Parties recognize the benefit of agreeing on a framework of rules on
SOEs. The SOE chapter covers large SOEs that are principally engaged in commercial
activities. Parties agree to ensure that their SOEs make commercial purchases and sales
on the basis of commercial considerations, except when doing so would be inconsistent
with any mandate under which an SOE is operating that would require it to provide public
services. They also agree to ensure that their SOEs or designated monopolies do not
discriminate against the enterprises, goods, and services of other Parties. Parties agree
to provide their courts with jurisdiction over commercial activities of foreign SOEs in their
territory, and to ensure that administrative bodies regulating both SOEs and private
companies do so in an impartial manner. TPP Parties agree to not cause adverse effects
to the interests of other TPP Parties in providing non-commercial assistance to SOEs, or
injury to another Party’s domestic industry by providing non-commercial assistance to an
SOE that produces and sells goods in that other Party’s territory. TPP Parties agree to
share a list of their SOEs with the other TPP Parties and to provide, upon request,
additional information about the extent of government ownership or control and the noncommercial
assistance they provide to SOEs. There are some exceptions from the
obligations in the chapter, for example, where there is a national or global economy
emergency, as well as country-specific exceptions that are set out in annexes."
.
Specifically this:
Parties agree to ensure that their SOEs make commercial purchases and sales
on the basis of commercial considerations, except when doing so would be inconsistent
with any mandate under which an SOE is operating that would require it to provide public
services. They also agree to ensure that their SOEs or designated monopolies do not
discriminate against the enterprises, goods, and services of other Parties
.
So which one is it? Can't be inconsistent with any mandate requiring it to provide public services, or can't discriminate? What if you have to choose between one or the other? Which one carries more weight?
.

The chapter on environment is, as expected, very weak in its wording....:
.
"In an effort to protect their shared oceans,
TPP Parties agree to sustainable fisheries management, to promote conservation of
important marine species, including sharks, to combat illegal fishing, and to prohibit
some of the most harmful fisheries subsidies that negatively affect overfished fish stocks,
and that support illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing. They also agree to enhance
transparency related to such subsidy programs, and to make best efforts to refrain from
introducing new subsidies that contribute to overfishing or overcapacity."
.
Promote conservations, not: conserve.
prohibit some subsidies, not: prohibit all subsidies
make best efforts to refrain, not: will not introduce new subsidies.
.
It will also allow members to rely on voluntary environmental initiatives, such as corporate social responsibility programmes (which are either non-existent or only used as team building exercises).
This chapter also falls under ISDS.

You are so right in terms of the important, yet subtle, wording choices. Not so subtle to those of us that have been part of these 'crafting' sessions - but most folks in reading them would think the motives were genuine - whereas they are completely the opposite. Let the exploitation go on!

And what, pray tell is the "including sharks" - surely that started out life as "including whales" and got amended?

How can anybody support this? Heartless.

Agreed.

With the world economy really not in good shape what are we gaining by signing this?

We gain little. USA and its corporates gain a whole country without invading and loss of USA solders' lives. A zero sum game.