Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement near completion; Drug patents and auto parts access deals said done; dairy access for NZ still in the air; News conference delayed to 1 pm NZT

Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement near completion; Drug patents and auto parts access deals said done; dairy access for NZ still in the air; News conference delayed to 1 pm NZT

By Bernard Hickey

Ministers negotitating the final details of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) are preparing to hold a news conference in Atlanta that could include the announcement of a deal.

The US Trade Representative's office initially scheduled a news conference for 9 am NZ time this morning, but it has since been delayed until 11 am NZ time, and then to 1pm NZ time. It has since been delayed indefinitely as wrangling continues at the last minute.

Dow Jones reported that the dispute on auto parts had been agreed and the major areas of dispute remained around patent protection for biologics and dairy access. It reported one source saying the biologics dispute had essentially been solved and the United States and New Zealand still had differences over dairy access to the US market.

Reuters reported a deal on biologics was reached to keep Australia's existing five year protection period, but with flexibility on some drug monopolies. US firms had wanted 12 years of exclusivity.

A livestream of the news conference is available here.

'Trust me. It's worth it'

Earlier, Prime Minister John Key told Corin Dann in an interview broadcast on Q+A on Sunday that New Zealand would not get everything it wanted on dairy.

"The question is, can we get something that’s acceptable," he said.

He downplayed the issue of investor state dispute resolution, saying this clause was already in four of New Zealand's Free Trade Agreements and the thresholds had been too high for any action to be taken.

"There has never been a case taken against New Zealand," he said.

He acknowledged New Zealand was waiting to see how Philip Morris' case against Australia under its FTA with Hong Kong was progressing on the issue of plain paper packaging of cigarettes. He said Philip Morris had used the unusual Hong Kong FTA with Australia rather than the more recent Australia-US deal.

"What will be carved out of TPP will be any restrictions when it comes to public health, so we’ll be quite free to have plain packaging if we want, and the government is moving towards that anyway," he said.

Key said the Government's modelling of the economic benefits of the TPPA compared to New Zealand's FTA with China showed it was still "impressive", even without a very good deal on dairy.

"So when I say to New Zealanders 'look, I'm not going to sign you up to something unless I think it's in your best interests'. I don't do that by whistling in the wind," he said.

'Prepare for dead rats'

Meanwhile, Trade Minister Tim Groser told Audrey Young in the Weekend Herald that some ugly compromises were likely for all players.

"It's got the smell of a situation we occasionally see which is that on the hardest core issues, there are some ugly compromises out there," Groser was quoted as saying.

"And when we say ugly, we mean ugly from each perspective - it doesn't mean 'I've got to swallow a dead rat and you're swallowing foie gras.' It means both of us are swallowing dead rats on three or four issues to get this deal across the line."

(We will update this article through the day as more details come to hand.)

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to 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.




Certainly not a deal tailored to address the citizen's concerns. Unfortunately brazen political adjustments to accommodate the wealthy and powerful are here to stay unless the population demands otherwise.

Witness the Yemen outrage.

GENEVA — In a U-turn at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Western governments dropped plans Wednesday for an international inquiry into human rights violations by all parties in the war in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians in the last six months. Read more

What does one expect when the Saudis brokered a deal with the Brits to hand them the chairmanship of the UN Human Rights Council.

'If I die I've had a happy life': Astonishing bravery of the boy who faces being beheaded then crucified in Saudi Arabia for taking part in protest when he was 17
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr arrested for participating in protest in Qatif in 2012
He will be beheaded and his body will be crucified in public for three days"

These are scary "allies"

Funny how, after being called on by the United States to become involved in training the Iraqi Army, John Key made a fiery speech to condemn the Labour Party for their recalcitrance in failing to approve the troop deployment he vociferously proclaimed is necessary , because ISIS are barbaric in their punishment of what they regard as crimes, though his condemnation of the Saudi monarchy for similar public penalties was notable in its absence, while he was in the process of negotiating a trade agreement with them.

“I utterly reject them and don’t believe they should do that,” he told Q+A’s Corin Dann.

“But they are taking it against their own citizens. They’re not looking to basically get to the point where they murder New Zealanders in their own country or in parts of the region that they travel to simply because we disagree with their perspective on the world.”

My Key pointed out there were many countries that New Zealand had disagreements with."

Conclusion? John Key would be happy to trade with ISIS, if only they had powerful friends like the United States who are willing to overlook their atrocious human rights record, could sign a free trade agreement with us, and sell us cheap oil. And as long as they don't kill kiwis. It would be okay if they only killed local people apparently.


it's just another FTA - yeah right!


It shouldn't be about whether it's a "good" deal for NZ or not.
It should be about the loss of sovereignty!

What an assault to democracy..

It sounds to me like what you want is not a democracy but rather a government that does whatever you please. I too have a vote and I am pro TPPA.

Democracy? This is a government that blatantly views democratic processes as inconvenient at best. Secrecy, elected board scuttling and direct appointments in their place (DHBs the latest reported today), asset sale proceeds distribution, etc.

Care to elaborate on exactly why you support it? What do you expect to gain from it? Will it be enough to compensate for what the rest of us will lose?

Jeez, notaneconomist is one of the most outspoken opponents of the deal in this little blogger community.

The extended patent protection duration means that entities have more incentive to develop new innovations that will immediately benefit those willing to pay for them and eventually benefit those who expect everything for free ( or close enough to it ) once the patent expires. Technological innovation is always to be supported and encouraged.
By establishing a multi-national "court" we can hold our government to account if they suddenly decide to change the rules on us, especially rules that we were relying on to enable us to be profitable (ie. it provides a level of certainty that is conducive to business development).
A reduction of cross boarder tariffs is always welcome as it means reduced cost. What is there to not like about the TPPA? I'm no multi-national corporation and despite the fear mongering in the media everything that I know about the TPPA to date is positive!

So I take it you've read the full agreement?

If I had I would not have qualified my statements above by stating that "everything that I know about the TPPA to date is positive". It is entirely possible that the parts we've been informed of are the sum of the good parts and that everything else is bad, but do bear in mind that it isn't Labour who have been negotiating on our behalf. National generally do a decent job when it comes to international agreements.


No one can offer any informed opinion "for or against" unless they have reviewed the entire agreement. However anyone with business experience (and who hasn't got vested interests) would lean to the "against" side purely because we are not getting full disclosure.

For you to endorse an agreement without seeing it's entirety demonstrates your inexperience.


This shibboleth is one peddled by multinational pharmaceutical firms in order to rationalize their extortionate profits.

The historical record provides little evidence to support it. On the contrary it shows that the strict US patent regime inhibits innovation, which technology companies in IT and pharmaceuticals are implicitly acknowledges, though the solutions that they propose to address the problem such as patent pools actually just entrench their dominance of their respective markets. All it does is lower the costs to the firms, but not for end consumers

"Despite their potential to solve ills of the patent regime, patent pools may pose problems from the perspective of competition law, as borne out by the experience of developed countries, particularly the United States. As early as 1938, Hamilton found that many existing patent pooling schemes in the United States were used to create ‘monopoly of monopolies’ with the intention to make industrial knowledge common property of a limited number of economic actors and restrain trade by restricting conditions for use, suppressing new patents, and limiting competition through barricading the market against new entrants. 9

Are these publicly traded multinational pharmaceutical firms? If they are and you think that the TPPA is a 1 way ticket to success for them then just buy their stocks? That way the profit goes to you!

and the deaths?


Yes and all those people who will lose out by the rising costs of health care will be compensated if they buy stocks in the pharmaceutical firms? Get real sadr001. Many of these people can barely afford to pay their rent, food, and clothe their children. How could you think they have sufficient discretionary income to buy stocks in corporations, let alone enough to compensate them for their losses? The delusion of the privileged never fails to amaze me.

Btw. I am one of those people, though thankfully I don't have children and my health is good, at least for the moment.

me neither....

If the cost of enough stocks for the dividend to cover the "losses" is too high, it means that the company is nor profitable enough. Also bear in mind that patents allow researchers to get paid for their work developing the products. Without the concept of patents many products wouldn't exist resulting in far more deaths, ergo patents save many lives (from now into the far future) at the cost of a few ( in the very short term) who refuse to acknowledge that development of pharmaceuticals costs money.

You actually have to have the means to buy the stocks in the first place sadr001. You may have, but the majority of us don't.

You have also yet failed to provide any evidence of your claim that strong patent law increases innovation and access to improved drugs for consumers. Rather the evidence shows the opposite.

Pay higher prices, buy shares in the companies, get the dividends
Guaranteed - you can bet your boots that those loyal acolytes of Enron and Volkswagen and Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns who bought shares in those companies are feeling joyous right now

Trouble is a) they mostly dont develop new drugs but "me too" drugs, or where the drugs are new the outcomes from using them are almost statistically insignificant. b) ppl/Govns grant a patent for a limited time in order for it to be worthwhile ie profitable, it is then expect the drugs to fall into the public domain for the good of all. a win/win and not a win/rape.

This is not "we" hold our Govn accountable by corporate pillaging. Govn's change rules because the voter wants them changed, that is sovereignty & democracy in action. So the voter already holds the Govn accountable in the voting booth and not some hidden kangaroo court.

Corporate interests already write the rules steven. The TPPA is intended to frustrate any efforts by those who may fail to follow the playbook, on the odd occasion that it happens, which is rarely.


Only a fool would be pro any agreement without first being given the opportunity to review it entirely.

Only a fool would be "anti" any agreement without first being given the opportunity to review it entirely.

If however you know enough of it that what you do know outweighs the benefits and threatens democracy and sovereignty then saying no right now until it is improved/changed is perfectly reasonable.


SimonD - we were not given an opportunity to review anything though were we. That's the point you muppet!

And in fact after the deal is done we will not be allowed to review the agreement for 5 years will we??!!

Anyone with half a brain, would be very suspicious.

It is a good thing most of us have a whole brain as opposed to "half a brain" then isn't it? :P
It is logistically impossible to organize a massive agreement where everyone has input at minute levels and there is no way to know before hand what the agreement will look like because you don't yet know the demands / compromises that other parties have/are willing to make. providing a TPPA document before anything is finalized has lots of down sides and almost no upsides, leadership with a whole brain would therefore avoid doing so.

Incorrect sadr001. Plenty of proposed statutory legislation is open for public submissions. Luckily we have the Law Society typically involved in these public reviews.

Seeing you appear so knowledgeable about this topic, could you please enlighten me as to the reason why the details of this agreement will not be fully disclosed until 5 years following completion? Why are those involved so scared of disclosure and subsequent judgement if the deal is so great?

one way to address the issue is - once the terms are agreed amongst the parties - and before it is signed - (and importantly) publish the whole thing - and then hold a binding referendum - if we can do it for pick-a-flag followed by make-your-minds-up-on-the-flag referenda - you'd think the benefits and pitfalls are so important and long-lasting, we should be given the opportunity to have a referendum - it should not be left up to a few elites

Good luck with that two otherguys. The Greek people weren't exactly given the choice in whether to accept the Troika structural reform package foisted up them, were they? Do you imagine the neoliberal elites would treat us any different?

just sayin'

JK seeks the imprimatur of the people to change the flag but does not see the need for our approval to engage in the TPPA


The flag referendum is just a circus to distract the plebs. It's meaningless. It won't materially effect anyone. Its nothing but vacuous nationalist sentiment.

But the TPPA will have immense potential in reallocating resources and wealth throughout the globe. It won't just affect the signatories, but also other countries who have most favoured nations status with the individual participating countries. China will be entitled to all the privileges afforded to the TPPA countries if it improves the market opportunities available to the firms of the parties to the TPPA.


Then why are representatives from the top 500 US corporates privy to the content of the trade deal?

It shouldn't be necessary to explain what democracy is, but seeing what your concept of democracy is let me explain a few things :)

An executive power (NZ's government) doesn't represent a nation. It is the parliament (legislative power) through our representatives who do so. If NZ's government tries to act on behalf of the nation to make an international agreement, our representatives should be the ones negotiating the deals and making them publicly available. That is not happening.

If a government elected by the majority makes an agreement that doesn't expire as soon as their mandate expires, or if the negotiation terms are kept secret, or if NZ as a nation cannot modify the terms of the signed agreement whenever NZ as a nation wants.. then this is a violation of democracy.

May I ask how could you possibly be pro-TPPA without knowing ANY detail about TPPA? Are we talking about democracy or about faith?

I am not saying I am against TPPA because I consider it might be a good or bad deal for New Zealand. I simply don't know that because the government refuses to inform.

What I am saying is that I am against TPPA and against any other law/regulation that might affect the nation if the nation is not sovereign to decide whatever we want to decide and whenever we think it's appropriate according to the changing reality and as per majority (which by the way changes with time and that's why elections/referendums must be constantly made).

Can anybody guarantee that under TPPA? No. Then I don't care what it says in the final agreement or how good it might be for economic interests. If it's above people's will measured by democratic mechanisms I don't want it and I will demand my representative to oppose it.

How exactly does this "NZ can modify the terms of the signed agreement whenever NZ wants" works? Do you expect the other signatories to accept that? Do you propose that they should have the same rights?

could be interesting. Imagine Canada and Japan allowing NZ milk in until NZ milk starts to have a material impact on their markets and then changing their terms so that no NZ milk is allowed in. What would the farmers who increased production in reliance of those markets think of that!

lol. Guess what will happen to Fonterra when Canadian and US farm products will be allowed into markets where Fonterra have preferential market access.?

depends on who has who in a christmas hold

Australia has a free-trade agreement with New Zealand under CER.

For years and years and years anchor products and mainland cheeses were the main products of their type until a few years ago when nationalist loyalties boiled over. Someone phoned someone else who phoned someone else who tapped someone else on the shoulder. And hey-presto - suddenly these products disappeared overnight from the TV advertisements and completely off the supermarket shelves

The supermarkets stopped buying the stuff

If I wanted a law that cannot be changed according to a changing reality and based on a social consensus accepted by people as a means to measure who is majority and who is minority in order to avoid violent conflicts when deciding things (a.k.a democracy) I would pursue a theocracy and "pray" for god and its messengers not to be mad at us. Maybe a Sharia law where law is given and divine.

I'd imagine TPPA supporters (the ones that are in favour despite not knowing what's about) would agree with such a system as long as NZ gets a "good deal" (would god be on our side?).

And now seriously.. I don't care what other sovereign nations decide, I care what NZ decides and our power to legislate and law enforcement within our borders, and I care about the most fundamental of trading: reciprocal voluntary exchange of goods and services respecting the laws made by those involved.

How can it possibly not be relevant what other sovereign nations decide?

The whole point of international trade negotiations is that other sovereign nations' decisions directly affect New Zealand's wellbeing through their influence on our ability to trade internationally. Therefore we have a strong interest in encouraging or persuading or otherwise convincing them not to take decisions that will harm our interests. That's what a trade negotiation does. We give some in order to get some.

If New Zealand signs up to this deal, it will be because it believes that it will derive benefits from the undertakings that other signatories agree to. If other sign up to this deal, it will be because they believe that they will derive benefits from the undertakings that New Zealand agrees to.

Do you seriously believe we'd be better off in a world where we had complete freedom to do what we liked with our own laws, no matter how harmful they were to other countries, and other countries had the same freedom, no matter how harmful their laws were to New Zealand? Do you think New Zealand will do well in a world where everybody is free to use their economic and trading power however they wish? Do you think the smaller, weaker kids in the playground will do better in a situation where all the kids are bound by rules about behavior, or one where they aren't?

Do you think New Zealand will do well in a world where everybody is free to use their economic and trading power however they wish?


Someone might think that NZ was incapable of trading before TPPA.

What is the problem with having concession rates, levies and tariffs when doing business with other countries and decide who and how to do business?

It's shocking to see how easily some are willing to give away our collective/politic freedom.

Its not New Zealand who is signing up to this deal Ms de Meanour, its a small group of select individuals, some of whom have transnational political ambitions.


The world is a hard coldhearted place and yet again we have innocents abroad like Groser negotiating for us. Whatever is in these agreements will last as long as it suits the other players. Watch Groser in two years or so explaining away why our product is blocked on some wharf somewhere because it just suits somebody at the time.


Key is being disingenuous with his comment that no investor state dispute cases have been brought against NZ. They don't need to be. Governments will be paralysed from fear of legal action. That's why we haven't moved on plain packaging for cigarettes in case we get sued like the Australians. We need to get informed about what is happening around the world with investor state disputes and realise that we don't live in a bubble and these things can happen here. This article details how ridiculous things have become. Interesting to see the name of a large Oz mining company with operations in NZ getting in on the act overseas.
But John assures us it won't happen here. ...

Thanks for the link Longpockets. This has been my biggest fear with the TPP but she's all good according to the" Smiling Assassin".
A couple of other aspects to this investor dispute business; it gives greater rights to foreign multinational companies than our own domestic, home grown businesses that have no such right to sue the Government/people of New Zealand (thank God) for loss of future profits. We are disadvantaging ourselves, crazy but true.
A lot of these cases concern genuine issues with pollution, worker and public safety this may well lead to a two tier standard - one for domestic and another very soft set of rules for multinationals.
Is this what we need or want?

"The number of suits filed against countries at the ICSID is now around 500 – and that figure is growing at an average rate of one case a week. The sums awarded in damages are so vast that investment funds have taken notice: corporations’ claims against states are now seen as assets that can be invested in or used as leverage to secure multimillion-dollar loans. Increasingly, companies are using the threat of a lawsuit at the ICSID to exert pressure on governments not to challenge investors’ actions."

"Increasingly, these suits are becoming valuable even before claims are settled. After Rurelec filed suit against Bolivia, it took its case to the market and secured a multimillion-dollar corporate loan, using its dispute with Bolivia as collateral, so that it could expand its business. Over the last 10 years, and particularly since the global financial crisis, a growing number of specialised investment funds have moved to raise money through these cases, treating companies’ multimillion-dollar claims against states as a new “asset class”."

Anyone who still thinks these deals are about the type of free trade which benefits consumers, is wilfully not understanding the issue.
Yes, this is all about trade. Trade which benefits corporations, and corporations only.

Isn't it Oceania Gold who is mining Waihi?
And I agree with Longpockets: governments will increasingly shy away from holding 'investment corporations' to account, for fear of getting sued.
Sad times.

Is not "Influence Peddling' the term used in this above article in the Guardian, another name for corruption and buying influence.

Those who have deep pockets may know just what I mean..Longpockets aside..

I think some people forget among other things that A certain article was heavily influencing a certain other party at a certain other party, until he fell out of flavor and favor.

Now shall we just say a protracted case is being undertaken by a certain element to extricate himself. Maybe he should have tried "back peddling influences" as the cheques donated were apparently way to small to garner favor, Even the Police could not get it right, on the night.

Maybe a Panda might put it right today, but what do I know...XI only knows according to Aljazera article I was just watching, where the influence and affluence are incontestable, some even have sleepless nights over it...if you disagree with his regime.

But he has been "Peddling Influence" in America, from what I hear, probably could not download it directly. Blocked internet....apparently.

Maybe I should stop, whilst a head of the game. I do not like to lose sleep over all this subject. TV, any, reporters, who is telling Porkies. I am beginning to wonder.

I think I am getting the picture. But then I have to take it all with a pinch of Salt.

Or is that a grain of truth..

One man's influence is another poor sods TPP.

'Trust me. It's worth it' - John Key.

Given that John Key has a very troubled relationship with the truth, any body who trusts anything that he says is a fool.

I don't know whats in the TPPA and John Key doesn't know what's in his Blind Trust.
Things that make you go Hmmmmmmm

I just bet there is a hidden get-out clause that says...

"Get out of jail free card for those signing the TPP..(I shall now call Trading Political Pandering) fraud Lobby....5 years and counting.

May I just remind all those who may have forgotten as simple minds seem to do....

There was just such a protectionist clause that gave every 'Fraud-u-lent' deal Cart Blanche for all such derivative and shonkey Bankers who caused the past 10 years of the Global Financial Crisis. That they all benefited from and still do.

Not one Jail sentence...among these elite.

This should not be a nonsense Bail-out on all governments part " It should be Transparent Projected Politicking ....TPP for short" that each and every country should have to abide by.

One rule that everyone can rely on, not those we Taxpayers and QE scammers can never escape from.

Is no one awake out there.?. Or is it just me, who is paranoid.

If you read the Guardian article, most of the ISDS contracts signed between governments and corporations, contain a 'sunset clause", which means that what ta particular government has signed up to, is binding to 10 or even 20 years after these agreements have been rescinded.
As far as I'm concerned, this is all part of the cash flow from poor to rich.
It's not stopping, or even slowing down.

Yes, the "Owners" want it all, and they want it all now, regardless of the consequences.

To get the TPP fast-tracked through US congress (no more debate about TPP) lots of money changed hands, and the largest corporate donor?? none other than Goldman sachs... America is run by corporates and the TPP is their way of circumventing our national laws. Signing this Trade deal is making a pact with the devil himself...

And the sheepie say, "I trust our smiling leader."

After TPP, NZ may not be able to pass legislation affecting the sale of cigarettes or alcohol, right ? So, it is bars open 24 hrs and smoking everywhere ? Even taxes on these could be questioned and sued against, because they will affect the sale and profits of the producers, who are usually multinational corporations ?

Depending upon the agreement, the provisions aren't retrospective. It only affects law changes after the agreement was signed.

Better insert a clause providing for Governments to declare Bankruptcy and get out of the liabilities under TPP, in case of court cases and such.

How about a little Kindness and Humanity for Mohammed's sake...Interested.

I am an Atheist, I freely admit....but if there is a God in your life..or whatever your something with the below link.

Collectively we can achieve something worthwhile...if not correcting TPP, then perhaps this.

Not much to ask...And it ain't all about Money...or bleedin Houses...or the price of Oil.

This beggars belief. Millions are involved..why not you?.

A bit of solidarity will work wonders. Not asking much...Maybe all our Politicians could assist ..that is if not too busy making a quid or a dollar, overseas.

ATLANTA — The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday agreed to the largest regional trade accord in history

Only once that intellectual property issue was settled did several nations, including Canada, New Zealand and the United States, turn to the arcane details of further opening their dairy markets.

U.S. industries such as auto, textiles and dairy, however, could experience some losses as they are likely to face greater competitive pressures from Vietnam, Japan and New Zealand.

Resolution on drug patents apparently enabled trade ministers to move ahead on another big sticking point. The U.S. agreed to allow more imports of sensitive dairy goods, a top priority for New Zealand, after Canada and Japan made concessions to open up dairy markets more in their countries