This is a bit of a long email, but it’s an important one.
Today I got back from a week in Vietnam and the Philippines, representing New Zealand at APEC and the East Asia Summit. I’ve met with world leaders from right across the Asia-Pacific region – including from China, Chile, Canada, Japan, the EU, India and ASEAN nations – and built direct relationships with the leaders and countries.
While I’ve been overseas, the main thing I’ve been doing is renegotiating a new version of the TPP, now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
As someone who signed a petition against the previous version of the TPP, I wanted to write directly to you and explain how the agreement has changed.
The deal signed by the previous Government sacrificed New Zealand’s interests and ability to make our own choices. That wasn’t acceptable to this Government, or to many New Zealanders.
In the three short weeks we’ve been in office, we’ve managed to make meaningful changes to the agreement, so that:
- The deal continues to upholds the unique status of the Treaty of Waitangi;
- It preserves New Zealand’s right to make laws in the interests of New Zealanders. Our mutual agreement with Australia, which is the source of 80% of our overseas investment from CPTPP, means Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses will continue to not apply between our countries and other protections will be in place too;
- New Zealand will introduce legislation to ban overseas speculators buying existing houses here in our first 100 days;
- Pharmac is fully protected, and no changes will be required to copyright terms;
- Private companies who enter into a contract with the Government will not be able to use ISDS clauses if there is a dispute;
- Tariffs will be substantially reduced for farmers and they’ll have access to new markets.
These are important changes from previous versions of the agreement. While we haven’t gained all the changes we hoped for on ISDS clauses, we have made significant progress in this area. Nothing in the agreement prevents us from regulating in NZ’s public interest, such as for public health, environment and water. We can also rule out claims relating to tobacco control measures. The Government is clear that we will oppose ISDS in future FTA negotiations.
There are four country-specific items remaining to negotiate between the 11 countries. As soon as the text of the agreement is finalised, it will be publically released, before going through a full parliamentary treaty examination process. We’ll be taking the time to have a conversation with New Zealanders about what it means for our country.
This is not a perfect agreement, but I’m proud of the work we did to improve it, and I’ve been honoured to represent our great country on the world stage.
Thanks so much,
PS. I know many New Zealanders will have more questions and I’m sure there’ll be lots of discussion about this over the coming months! To help explain where we’re at, I’ve made a video explaining the decision, which you can watch on my Facebook page here (and if you think the CPTPP is a good thing for NZ, will you help us get the message out by sharing it on your Facebook?).