New TPP 'a damn sight better': Ardern

Author
NZ Newswire,
Section
Politics,
Publish Date
Sunday, 12 November 2017, 7:40AM
Jacinda Ardern in Vietnam for the APEC summit. Photo/Getty
Jacinda Ardern in Vietnam for the APEC summit. Photo/Getty

The re-branded Trans-Pacific Partnership is ready to be signed if a majority of the 11 partner nations agree to the terms.

Agreements in principle have been reached on almost all aspects of the agreement, but four countries are being given time to renegotiate aspects of contention.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said while New Zealand isn't one of the four holding it up there's still work she'd like to do around the controversial investor-state dispute settlement clauses.

But for now New Zealand's team have managed to achieve a narrowing of provisions so they're similar to what's in free trade agreements with China and Malaysia.

That was the biggest issue for Labour as they sought to renegotiate the pact, just three weeks after taking office.

"It is not a perfect agreement but it is a damn sight better than what we had when we started," Ardern said on Saturday afternoon (local time) following the APEC Leaders Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam.

The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) no longer applies to investor screening. Anyone who takes up contracts with the Government would have to sue under domestic procedures instead of ISDS and a third aspect has been agreed around financial services.

Those provisions have been suspended, so while they will remain in the deal, a separate side treaty notes that they would not apply unless all nations agreed to re-include them.

As well as the reciprocal agreement with Australia to scrap ISDS provisions Ardern said New Zealand was also continuing to seek side letters with a handful of other countries, but won't detail who they are until an agreement has been ratified.

Trade Minister David Parker said New Zealand has also had wins in suspending patent extensions in relation to Pharmac, something the government believed would increase the cost of medicines.

It's been a turbulent few days for negotiators who are expected to meet again, likely in Japan by the end of the year, to nut out solutions to four outstanding issues.

Canada has suspended a narrow area relating to cultural issues and specifically how the agreement would impact funding for Francophone Netflix programming.

While it's only a very small part of the overall agreement it's believed only New Zealand was amenable to those changes.

Vietnam is seeking exemption periods for sanctions while they raise labour standards to meet international standards required by the CPTPP, while Brunei and Malaysia are seeking changes services and investor and state-owned enterprise provisions.

Ardern will now take the in principle agreement back to parliament where MPs and the public will have the opportunity to scrutinise the changes at the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee.

New legislation will also need to be introduced to ratify the new agreement.

- NZ Newswire

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