NZ Newspaper: An 'Honor' To Welcome Small Pacific Rim Countries As They Sign Away Much Of Their Sovereignty
from the most-comprehensive-and-far-sighted-economic-agreement-of-all-time dept
As we've written recently, a report from the World Bank suggests that the economic benefits from TPP will be slight for the US, Australia and Canada. New Zealand is predicted to do better, but not much: the econometric modelling predicts a 3.1% boost to its GDP by 2030 -- roughly 0.3% extra GDP per year. That's a pretty poor payback given the price participant countries will have to pay in terms of copyright, biologics and corporate sovereignty. Such details have not prevented one of the main newspapers in the country, the New Zealand Herald, from banging the drum for TPP's signing ceremony, which is probably going to take place quite soon:
New Zealand is about to have the honour of hosting the formal signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement by trade ministers from 12 nations of the Pacific rim. And it is an honour. This is the most comprehensive and far-sighted economic agreement the world has seen in our lifetime, possibly of all time.
Rather bizarrely, the editorial goes on to list TPP's many problems:
The TPP's intellectual property discussions raised the risk that US patent law and copyright protection of pharmaceuticals and other products of investment in science and research could be strengthened at considerable cost to public purchasing agencies, such as Pharmac, and innovation in digital technology in other countries. Medical professionals and IT developers have been among those fearful of the TPP during the course of its negotiation. So were environmentalists and public health promoters. They feared the inclusion of investor-state dispute settlement procedures could stop governments taking action in the interests of public health or the environment that would reduce the value of commercial investments.
At this point, you might expect a refutation from the editorial, and a compelling explanation why all those concerns proved misguided. Instead, it notes that many of these fears were stoked by the insane secrecy surrounding the negotiations, and suggests that since the text was released two months ago, everything's OK now. The editorial has to admit that yes, there are 6000 pages that need to be read, but points out that the final text has provided great summer holiday reading for those in the Southern Hemisphere. It then makes the following claim:
The precise terms seem to have survived scrutiny so far.
In fact, the release of the TPP text has amply confirmed the main worries regarding just about every aspect of the deal. For anyone wanting a quick catch-up on the major problems there, Michael Geist is running a helpful series with the self-explanatory title "The Trouble with the TPP":
[I] wanted to expand on the trouble with the TPP in more detail. With that goal in mind, I plan to post each weekday until February 4th on problems associated with the TPP. The series will include posts on copyright, privacy, Internet governance, and many other issues.
Maybe the editors at the New Zealand Herald should read the series before the TPP signing ceremony, so that at least they understand why the following is not going to happen:
It is too much to hope any fears now assuaged [sic] will reduce the scale of protest at the signing. But it should not be too much to ask that those philosophically opposed to free trade respect the views of those who disagree with them, and let this country host the occasion with dignity and pride.
Dignity, maybe. But pride? That's hardly appropriate given what is really happening here.