Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

TPP signing: A 'gracious' welcome, then down to business

The Trans Pacific Partnership has been officially signed at a ceremony in Auckland today.

Ministers in Auckland for the signing of the deal were formally welcomed to New Zealand at Sky City Convention Centre this morning in a brief Maori welcome.

Sir Harawira Gardiner led on the 11 visiting ministers who were called into the room by Cherie Povey.

The ministers hongi-ed a small welcome party which included Trade Minister Todd McClay, New Zealand chief negotiator David Walker and Tame Te Rangi.

After a karakia, Mr Te Rangi said he was proud and privileged to be there representing Ngati Whatua to welcome them.

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Mr McClay began the meeting by thanking Ngati Whatua for their "gracious" welcome - several groups declined to take part in the welcome because they opposed the TPP.

He then welcomed the ministers for what he said was a "momentous occasions for all of our countries."

He made special mention of the three other countries that started the TPP with New Zealand: Singapore, Chile, and Brunei.

The signing ceremony began 11.30am and was attended by Prime Minister John Key.

Chairing the ministerial meeting is a big responsibility for a minister who has been in the role for less than two months and about a trade deal considered the most significant achievement in trade since the Uruguay Trade Round which led to the establishment of the World Trade Organisation in 1995.

See more TPP Coverage here


Last night McClay met the senior trade minister, United States Trade Representative Mike Froman, who led much of the TPP talks in close concert with former NZ Trade Minister Tim Groser, now ambassador to the US.

Speaking to the Herald last night after meeting Mr Froman, Mr McClay said Mr Froman was confident the TPP would be passed by the United States Congress.

Mr McClay said Mr Froman also reaffirmed that the TPP "wasn't open for re-negotiation."
Officials might also do some work on a possible TPP secretariat but the priority was to get the TPP ratified by the 12 countries because without it, it would not enter into force.

As well as a formal meeting with the United States, Mr McClay was also due to hold formal talks with ministers from Peru, Vietnam, Australia, Mexico and Chile.


Mr McClay also confirmed that the bill containing enabling legislation for the TPP, amending various existing acts, will be presented as a single omnibus bill through all stages.

"It is my intention for it to be one piece of legislation all the way through which means different people will have different position at the committee stage but finally at third reading there will be a vote Yes or No on the legislation that is required to ratify it."

That will force Labour to vote against the bill at its final reading rather than cherry picking.

Labour leader Andrew Little has said Labour would support the part of the bill that cuts New Zealand tariffs on imports - a reciprocal move for the cutting of tariffs of other TPP parties on goods exported by New Zealand.

Now he will be forced to vote against that, having confirmed Labour's opposition last week.

Labour says the deal undermines New Zealand's sovereignty.
Labour also objects to a requirement to inform foreign Governments of legislations that impacts upon them and a right to have a say, saying it gives them too much influence.


The national interest analysis drawn up by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be presented to Parliament next Tuesday when the House resumes for the year.

The report will be considered by the foreign affairs and defence select committee, which will be open to public submissions, and reported back to Parliament.

Legislation enabling the TPP will be drawn up and introduced to the House. The bill will have to power to change relevant laws in the event that the TPP enters into effect.
The bill will also be considered by the foreign affairs and defence select committee and will be open to public submissions and hearings.

The committee will report back to Parliament and it may criticize parts of it but amendments will be out of the question.

- NZ Herald

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