500 negotiators from 11 countries – for trade negotiations starting in Auckland on Sunday

Press Release – New Zealand Government
Trade Minister Tim Groser welcomes the arrival of over 500 negotiators from 11 countries to Round 15 of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, which runs from Sunday till 12 December in Auckland.

“TPP participants already take around 38 percent of our exports and include our largest services and international procurement markets.

“A comprehensive 21st century agreement would provide many more opportunities to New Zealand businesses to grow their trade and investment footprint in the region,” says Mr Groser.

The Government’s free-trade agenda is part of its wider programme to build a more productive and competitive economy that will help New Zealand businesses grow, create jobs and sell more of their products and services around the world.

Collectively the 11 TPP economies have a total population of 650 million people and represent around US$21 trillion in GDP.

The round follows last week’s meeting in Phnom Penh where seven TPP leaders, including Prime Minister Key, expressed a common interest to seek to conclude a high-quality deal in 2013.

Canada and Mexico will take part in the TPP negotiations for the first time.

“Their participation represents a key step towards a regional free trade agreement and reinforces TPP’s potential as a pathway to towards increased trade and economic integration around the Asia-Pacific,” Mr Groser says.

Press Release – Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network – November 29
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement free trade negotiations resume in Auckland on Sunday. “A hot-button issue to be discussed is the US proposal for foreign investor rights to sue governments for damages if a law or policy harms their investments,” said Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network.

“The Australian government opposes this, because it is currently being sued by the Philip Morris tobacco company for its plain packaging legislation, under the provisions of an obscure 1993 Hong Kong investment agreement, even after tobacco companies lost their challenge to the legislation in the Australian High Court.”

Trans-Pacific free trade negotiations between Australia, the US, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Mexico and Canada resume in Auckland, NZ, from December 2 to 9, 2012.

“A wide range of civil society organisations will be holding public events and demonstrations, and presenting their views to negotiators,” said Dr Ranald.

“A report by the Amsterdam Transnational Institute called Profiting from Injustice released this week exposes the growth of the international ‘arbitration industry’ for investor rights to sue over health and environmental legislation. It has surged from 38 known cases in 1996 to 459 known cases in 2011. In 2010, corporations were claiming at least $100 million from governments in 151 cases,” explained Dr Ranald.

The report reveals how the arbitration industry is dominated by a few international legal firms which supply both arbitrators and advocates, and has none of the safeguards of national legal processes. The proceedings are not public, lawyers can be advocates one week and arbitrators the next, there is no system of precedents and no appeals. Transnational companies support the system precisely because it gives them far more rights than national systems.

See http://www.tni.org/ProfitingFromInjustice.pdf

Dr Ranald will make a presentation to negotiators at the Stakeholders Forum on Friday, December 7. The presentation will analyse the reasons behind the Australian High Court decision, which were published in October, and show how international arbitration threatens national sovereignty by ignoring national judicial decisions. She will urge all governments to oppose investor rights to sue in the negotiations.

Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network
www.aftinet.org.au

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