Monday, 13 July 2015

TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP

Is the TPPA a big business conspiracy to create a new world order?

Opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is getting a full head of steam in every country that is a party to the secret negotiations.

The TPPA partners are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Peru, but more countries including China and South Korea may join.

The partnership had its roots in an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, in 2002, when New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Goh Chock Tong the Prime Minister of Singapore, and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, began negotiations on the Pacific Three Closer Economic Partnership.

Previous New Zealand governments had negotiated for access for New Zealand produce into the European Economic Community (now the European Union) with considerable success against determined opposition from some EEC members (The United Kingdom Government itself had to contend with determined opposition from its own people).
Former New Zealand
Prime Minister Helen Clark

New Zealand politicians had also negotiated two free trade and economic treaties with Australia, in spite of bitter opposition from the public in both countries on the basis that it was a sell-out and there would be a wholesale loss of jobs and unfair competition. The final free trade agreement between the two countries has been a huge success for both business and employment, and the two countries continue to move closer together.

With that record, New Zealand was seen as a country well capable of punching above its weight on the world stage. Two New Zealand prime ministers, Clark and Mike Moore, have gone on to head two powerful United Nations bodies, further evidence that New Zealand politicians can foot it with the best.

When Brunei in 2006 showed an interest in the Pacific Three Closer Economic Partnership it was renamed the Trans Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (P4). In 2008 Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States and Vietnam joined while the negotiations continued and, with 2012 as the target date, the agreement became the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
Former Singapore Prime
Minister Goh Chock Tong

From that first meeting in Mexico, the TPPA has grown to be the world’s largest ever trade agreement negotiations and will bring 40% of the world’s trade, employment and economic activity within its scope.

For people who think that big is bad, it’s time for them to consider the opposite of expanding trade blocs; imploding trade blocs. Think about trade and government the way it was two or three centuries ago. In many countries it was illegal to take produce from one town to the next, let alone across international borders, unless exorbitant tariffs were paid. The purpose of the trade barriers were supposedly to protect local industry and workers, but some people, politicians among them, could see that the effect of the barriers was counter-productive. However, the task of convincing the public at large of the advantages of free trade is not an easy one.

It is no coincidence that as nations and trade blocs have expanded over time, the range of products available has grown, employment has grown, life expectancy has increased and people enjoy more leisure time and healthier life styles. It is no coincidence at all. While it would be wrong to claim that freer trade alone has improved the standard of living, it must be recognised that it has played a major part. When the TPPA is finally signed it will help lift the lifestyle of 40% of the world’s population to an all-time new level of prosperity and quality of life.
Former Chilean President
Ricardo Lagos

So, you may ask, if the TPPA has such a glowing future, why are so many people opposed to it?

Quite simply, the answer lies in human nature. Even in the twenty-first century we all have a natural in-built instinct to protect our own little patch and to preserve what we know and understand. In some ways we haven’t progressed much since we lived in caves. We still believe that a caveman should not be allowed to trade with cavemen on the other side of the mountain. Someone might get a bad deal, and may even lose his cave if the deal goes wrong. Of course, this is an extreme and rather ridiculous example in today’s world, but it illustrates just where we have come from.

It is perfectly natural to think that change will be bad, especially if what we know and trust is replaced by something larger. It is easy to think that there is some kind of conspiracy going on, and that we will be the victims of that conspiracy.

The leaders of the 12 nations that were negotiating the TPPA in 2012

When it comes to the TPPA the conspiracy theory is that the whole thing is driven by big business and that only the big business owners and the politicians will be richer as a result. But such a proposition cannot stand up to proper scrutiny. Economic common sense must tell us that if 99% of the population are poor, then the other 1% will also be poor. Even if the 1% owned 99% of the world’s assets, those assets would be worthless. The products and services owned by the 1% would be useless if 99% of the world population could not afford to buy them. Every day we hear that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, but that is patently incorrect because it ignores the basic economic reality set out above.

Then there is the suggestion that the TPPA will allow corporations to sue governments. In most parts of the world corporations already have that right. It is also a fact that most agreements, contracts and rules have procedures included to cover breaches. That claim is nothing other than a protestor’s red herring.

The TPPA is driven by far-sighted politicians, skilled departmental advisors and astute business leaders who understand that expanded free trade benefits everyone, except perhaps those countries left out of the loop.

Another reason often given for opposing the TPPA is that it is a conspiracy to create a New World Order (a form of world government) and it is going to be bad for everyone. Well that conspiracy theory has been around for hundreds of years, and we are still waiting.


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Then there is the argument that the negotiations are being held in secret and therefore it must be sinister. This writer has one word to describe that theory: Rubbish! I challenge any reader to give me just one example of a trade agreement that was negotiated publicly. That is not how government to government negotiations are conducted. Any government that tried to negotiate that way would certainly finish up on the losing end of the bargaining, and the people shouting the loudest would be the biggest losers.

Just imagine New Zealand’s four million people all having a say. The farmers would make their demands at the expense of everyone else. Manufacturers would do likewise, and so would teachers, orchardists, fishermen, bankers, lawyers, shop assistants, students, and so on. The delicate negotiations between the nations’ leaders, if carried out in public, would quickly degenerate into a violent lolly scramble of epic proportions. It would probably be enough to trigger a world war.

The negotiations can only be held in orderly private sessions. It is quite simply a case of a majority having elected the political leaders, and now they have to trust them. The politicians will understand that if they fail they will fall unceremoniously from office.

Meanwhile, the protest movement in every partner country is convinced that their country alone will be on the losing end of the deal, while all the other partners will win. Well, they can’t all be right on that score.

The opposition comes from many different quarters, even from some who are regularly accused of being involved in conspiracies. Brother Nathanael Channel writing in Real Jew News has stated that, ‘The Trans Pacific Partnership – now in secret negotiations – is nothing less than Globalization on steroids.’ Sorry, Brother, while the negotiators are working away quietly and resolutely, it is the protestors who are on steroids.

But after the TPPA becomes a fact of life, the world and its people will move on. There will be other negotiations, agreements and advances, and there will be more bitter protests and misinformation, lies and finger pointing. But more people will have a bigger share in a larger slice of cake.

UPDATE
Praise to the New Zealand team for walking away from the TPPA negotiations. For 30 years New Zealand farmers have survived without subsidies or trade barriers, but Canada and the USA cannot expect New Zealand to sign up to a free trade agreement while they protect their farmers with subsidies and tariffs. That wouldn't be free trade. North American farmers need to come into the modern world and accept the fact that trade barriers don't help anyone. If they rethink their stance they may possibly get New Zealand back to the negotiating table and the TPPA may survive.