13 Nov 2011

Greens want details of trade talks released before election

7:02 pm on 13 November 2011

The Green Party is calling on the National Party to release details of what it is prepared to give away in Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations.

At the meeting of APEC leaders in Honolulu at the weekend, United States President Barack Obama said the nine countries negotiating the deal intend reaching an agreement within 12 months, but acknowledged that there are plenty of difficult talks to come, including on barriers to agricultural trade.


Greens co-leader Russel Norman says National Party leader John Key needs to spell out before the election on 26 November what is being traded off to get a deal.

Dr Norman says the drug-buying agency Pharmac, New Zealand's right to regulate genetically-modified organisms and its rights over services such as public health and education could all be weakened.

"The New Zealand Government has given out its position papers on things like Pharmac to all the other governments and the other governments have swapped position papers with each other.

"But (as for) the public in all of the different countries, none of us know what's being given away in our name. So until they actually tell us what they're proposing to trade away, I wouldn't trust any of them."

If re-elected, National says it will proceed with the partial privatisation of State-owned energy companies Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power and Solid Energy and reduce the Crown's shareholding in Air New Zealand.

Dr Norman says it is worrying that Mr Key is intending to sell State assets at the same time as giving foreign companies greater rights in New Zealand.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership already includes New Zealand, Brunei, Chile and Singapore. The US, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Peru are negotiating to join.

Japan signalled on Friday that it wants to join the TPP negotiations, while China says it will also consider taking part in trade talks, if invited.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says there is a strong protectionist lobby in Japan and there is no certainty it will join the talks. But if it does, Mr Key says it would mean a huge opportunity for New Zealand which faces tariffs on many of its exports to Japan.