For some critics all trade deals are the same and should be opposed as a point of principle. Professor Jane Kelsey disappointingly writes that way, most recently of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Kelsey's position is hard to understand. This coalition Government made clear that it would seek a fairer deal for New Zealanders than the TPP, and has worked hard to negotiate changes to the agreement that address the concerns New Zealanders raised.
The new CPTPP agreement retains all of the market access improvements from TPP that will benefit New Zealand firms large and small. We have 620,000 New Zealand jobs depending on exports and this new agreement sustains those jobs, not least across our regions.
We have done away with the TPP's 20-year extension to New Zealand's copyright term, put an end to the imposition by TPP of additional costs for our medicine-buying agency Pharmac and removed limitations on our flexibility to change our intellectual property laws.
Importantly, the new agreement also narrows the scope for investors to successfully sue the New Zealand Government.
Kelsey suggests "investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is unchanged from the original text" of the agreement. "It's only some peripheral enforcement options that have been suspended," she continues. That is not correct.
To be specific, the scope of the former TPP investment chapter has been narrowed. This means under CPTPP claims are no longer permitted in relation to investment contracts and approvals. As a result, private companies that enter into an investment contract with the Government will not be able to use ISDS clauses under CPTPP if there is a dispute about that contract.
The re-confirmation of the Treaty-status side letter with Australia effectively carves out 80 per cent of CPTPP investors from being able to use ISDS against the Government. That further reduces the risks to the Government of being successfully sued. And negotiations are ongoing to secure more such side letters with several other CPTPP countries.
This Government understands the need to protect the New Zealand way of life. The changes negotiated in the agreement mean the Government will not face the same level of risk of being successfully sued by an investor in the Comprehensive and Progressive TPP as it did under the old agreement.
Furthermore, decisions made under the Overseas Investment Act are not subject to investor-state dispute resolution. Contrary to the previous Government's demand for New Zealanders to put international trade before domestic concerns, New Zealanders should not, and do not, need to fight for their right to control who owns our land and homes.
And this coalition Government has made it clear that it will not support ISDS in future free trade agreements.
While the CPTPP has become fairer, it has also preserved all of New Zealand's market access gains from the TPP. Estimates suggest these will ultimately be worth $222 million per year.
To take just one example of many, when the deal enters into force New Zealand kiwifruit sent to Japan will be tariff free. That will preserve the industry's competitiveness with a levelled playing field in a key market, including helping to sustain the thousands of New Zealanders employed in that sector across regional New Zealand.
To be very specific, the industry has estimated that the CPTPP will save it $26m per year. That matters.
Finally, the deal is also notable for its emphasis on fair trade among its partners. It is the first agreement New Zealand has ever secured which includes legally enforceable labour and environment standards. It will also be a world-first for including a prohibition on subsidies that encourage illegal fishing and subsidies to fishing in overfished stocks.
Again, that matters, not least in the Pacific where subsidised fishing fleets destroy a collapsing fish stock, harming not only New Zealand livelihoods but Pacific ones as well.
Our goal is transparency. Officials are currently travelling around the country speaking to diverse audiences — Māori, health professionals, unions, business groups and the general public — taking questions and feedback about the CPTPP. Unlike the past Government, this Government is committed to actually listening to what the country has to say.
New Zealand is pressing its CPTPP partners to release the text of the agreement as soon as possible. A national interest analysis will also be released before the agreement is signed.
In short, the CPTPP is a fairer, better deal for New Zealand than the former TPP.
• Winston Peters is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs.