17 Oct 2011

Trade deal documents to be kept secret

9:03 pm on 17 October 2011

Documents relating to a controversial trade deal that spans the Pacific, including New Zealand, will be kept secret for four years after it is signed.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade official has confirmed to Radio New Zealand News that only the final text of the nine-country Trans Pacific Partnership will be released.

An Auckland University law professor and staunch opponent of the talks Jane Kelsey says the secrecy is extreme even by the standards of recent negotiations.

She says the final text of trade deals is often vague and it will be difficult to assess what the Government has signed up to without sighting all documents relating to the negoatiations.

That could include concessions to the American pharmaceutical industry on the drugs-buying agency, Pharmac.

However, former trade negotiator Stephen Jacobi says releasing the documents could reveal what negotiating positions were taken and weaken New Zealand's bargaining power in future deals.