Jane Kelsey on Obama’s machinations win razor thin vote on Fast Track, NZ now on a hiding to nothing with TPPA

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Professor Jane Kelsey.

Source: Professor Jane Kelsey.

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Professor Jane Kelsey.
Professor Jane Kelsey.

Unprecedented procedural machinations and an unholy alliance with the Republicans have secured US President Obama a super-majority to advance his Fast Track bill in the US Senate by a single vote. The bill itself will be voted on tomorrow.

According to University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, ‘The damage to relations between the President and his core Democrat constituency may be irrecoverable, making the content of any final Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) deal a central of next year’s election campaign’.

‘The Republicans will now extract their pound of flesh on behalf of their corporate sponsors and local constituencies. We can expect even more intense pressure to deliver to Big Phrma, demands for more radical restrictions on state-owned enterprises, and renewed pressure to include rules against so-called currency manipulation.’

The Fast Track law also gives Congress a greater say in the ‘certification’ process, where they will oversee other countries’ compliance with US demands before the President can bring any final agreement into force.

‘Attention now shifts to the long-delayed meeting of ministers where the twelve countries will resume their secret negotiations and seek to strike a deal. We should expect that meeting within the next few weeks.’

The US and Japan still need to reach a bilateral agreement on agriculture and automobiles, which is far from certain. If they can, the final trade-offs on crucial social issues like medicine patents and investment rules will begin.

‘Both Prime Minister Key and Trade Minister Groser effectively conceded over the past week that New Zealand is on a hiding to nothing on dairy in the TPPA’, Professor Kelsey said.

Minister Groser has downgraded his bottom line from the elimination of all agricultural tariffs over time to simply requiring that ‘dairy is part of the deal’. Even that is not guaranteed.

‘No-one should be surprised that there’s nothing of substance on the table for New Zealand. Dairy is one of the most sensitive items for the US, Canada and Japan. New Zealand has nothing to trade-off in return, and the government is clearly desperate to be part of a final deal whatever the terms’, Professor Kelsey said.

‘Just as Obama has rolled the dice and “won” at enormous cost to his own party and to working families in the USA, the Key government is prepared to play Russian roulette with our future. The people of New Zealand will be the losers, but unlike the US Congress, our Parliament won’t get the final say’.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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