Trade deal alive with new name

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - VER­NON SMALL IN VIET­NAM

Af­ter a fraught 24 hours of talks, when a Cana­dian boy­cott of a cru­cial meet­ing threat­ened to scup­per the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, it ap­pears to be back on track.

The so-called TPP-11 - re­named af­ter the United States pulled out of the orig­i­nal 12-na­tion pact - is now the Com­pre­hen­sive and Pro­gres­sive Agree­ment for the Tran­sPa­cific Part­ner­ship (CPTPP). Canada is also back in­side the tent.

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern made it clear that con­ces­sions won, par­tic­u­larly on con­tro­ver­sial in­vestor-state dis­putes set­tle­ment clauses, had cleared the way for New Zealand to sign.

‘‘This is not a per­fect agree­ment but it is a damned sight bet­ter than what we had when we started,’ she said af­ter the lead­ers’ re­treat at the Apec sum­mit in Da Nang, Viet­nam. ‘‘It is not per­fect, no free trade agree­ment is. But it’s a lot bet­ter than where we were three weeks ago.’’

Trade min­is­ters, in­clud­ing New Zealand’s David Parker, is­sued a state­ment ac­knowl­edg­ing agree­ment on the core el­e­ments of the CPTPP. They also re­leased a list of ‘‘sus­pended is­sues’’, which were es­sen­tially those that had been im­por­tant to the US.

They can now only be writ­ten back into the deal by ne­go­ti­a­tion - and only by con­sen­sus of all the par­ties - if the US seeks to re­join, per­haps in the post-Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump era.

That, in the­ory, means New Zealand can pre­vent the sus­pended changes to the ISDS regime from re-en­ter­ing the agree­ment.

‘‘If Amer­ica comes in, it’s not an au­to­matic lift­ing of those sus­pended pro­vi­sions ... we worked hard to have lifted,’’ Ardern said.

The agree­ment would now be taken back to a se­lect com­mit­tee for the pub­lic and Par­lia­ment to as­sess it.

Ardern said New Zealand ne­go­tia­tors had worked hard on the ISDS clauses, which al­low cor­po­ra­tions to take le­gal ac­tion against host coun­tries in spe­cial tri­bunals. They have been nar­rowed in three ar­eas:

First, they no longer ap­ply to in­vestor screen­ing, so de­ci­sions made un­der the Over­seas In­vest­ment Act regime, ad­min­is­tered by the Over­seas In­vest­ment of­fice, could not be chal­lenged. Ardern said that was per­haps the most im­por­tant change.

Sec­ond, any­one who takes up a con­tract with the gov­ern­ment would no longer be able to sue through ISDS pro­vi­sions but must in­stead use do­mes­tic pro­ce­dures.

The third change re­lated to fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

Also, a side let­ter with Aus­tralia has ruled out the use of ISDS pro­vi­sions be­tween the two coun­tries, mean­ing ISDS does not ap­ply to 80 per cent of for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment from TPP na­tions.

A ‘‘hand­ful’’ of other coun­tries have agreed in prin­ci­ple to ISDS side let­ters but Ardern said she could not dis­close them yet.

Ardern said the ISDS pro­vi­sions in the CPTPP were now sim­i­lar to pre­vi­ous trade agree­ments New Zealand had signed, such as with China and Malaysia. New Zealand had wanted to go fur­ther, but she re­garded the progress over the few weeks since she came to of­fice as ‘‘a good out­come’’.

Other sus­pen­sions in the new CPTPP in­cluded copy­right pro­vi­sions. The US had achieved a ‘‘life plus 70 years’’ rule, but that would now drop back to the cur­rent ‘‘life plus 50 years’’.

Also, dis­clo­sure and ad­min­is­tra­tives rules im­posed on drug buy­ing agency Phar­mac would now be sus­pended.

The Ger­man Luft­waffe was rep­re­sented by John Magels, aka Hans Rudel, flanked by Kevin and Adam Car­berry.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern, with Trade and Ex­port Growth Min­is­ter David Parker, at the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship meet­ing held on the side­lines of the Apec sum­mit in Da Nang, Viet­nam.

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