Crawford Falconer - former MFAT trade negotiator and current Sir Graeme Harrison Professorial Chair in Global Value Chains and Trade at Lincoln University answers questions on today's TPP deal.

Why is this trade agreement such a big deal?

This deal is economically significant with the huge economies of Japan and the US in there. It is strategically significant both in trade and political terms.

And there just has not been an economically significant trade deal for decades.
There was a view out there that you can't do significant international trade deals anymore...that the United States had withdrawn from the world.

Long term the most strategically important thing may be that this proves negotiations are possible again.


It says: we're open for business again.

I don't have any doubt that a number of people who don't want this deal know that as well. That's why they are so opposed. They don't want that world and that's their view.
So this goes way beyond the immediate economic benefits - which are very real.

Who are the biggest winners?
The biggest winners are New Zealanders as a whole because this will add to our wealth. Why do you do these deals at the end of the day? You only do them because they benefit your economy. We generate wealth from those parts of the economy which are more efficient at doing what they are doing than other parts of the world.

People will say it will be meat or it will be wine and sure the benefits look good in a number of agricultural sectors. They also going to be quite good in a number of service sectors and there's also going to be areas we don't even know about yet.
The gains will filter through to the whole economy.

Who are biggest losers? Is dairy a loser?
No. It's probably a mediocre deal for dairy. I don't know about the details but you are better to be in. You're better to be applying the thin edge of the wedge in the hope that you can keep it moving in the right direction. We always knew we were up against it on dairy.

One needs to have a bit of perspective. Canadian dairy farmers aren't going to love this deal, they understand the idea of the thin edge of the wedge. The big Pharma lobby didn't get what it wanted so it isn't going to love this deal. It's pretty hard to see losers in New Zealand. Maybe the copyright stuff is a minor loss. It's annoying, it seems to me to be silly.

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Why has it been so secretive?
It is a pity that the reality of all this hasn't come across to people until now and that has been a consequence of the ultra-secrecy of the whole process.

Clearly the US wanted it this way. You have to have a degree of confidentiality but you don't have to have a cone of silence. If people had been able to take a more of a half-way house approach rather than leaving it to peoples anxieties then we would have had a better managed process.

The politicians will learn from this I think they need to find a way to bring people with them. Now we've got to go through a process now where people: go okay this doesn't look so scary why the hell couldn't you tell us.

Should we be worried about the deal handing too much power to global corporations?
Anything which goes in the direction of market liberalisation and increased competition is actually contrary to that. If there had been provisions that enabled big monopolies then you could have that debate. But actually this is a pro-competitive agreement. This should put incumbents under more pressure.

As trading nation did New Zealand really have any choice but to sign up to this deal?
New Zealand needs to be a wealthier economy. It can't do that through its internal market it's got to trade to survive.

It's not a question of not having a choice, it's just: why the hell wouldn't you?
You've got upsides on just about all of your exports and it would appear that there are no other significant. And it would appear there are no other significant costs to us on the pharmaceutical side, on the Government purchasing side of things. If there had been then you could have had a genuine debate.

And not only that, this put us at the heart of something with the potential to have real momentum and to develop linkages across the Pacific and probably across the Atlantic in due course. Gee do you want to be outside that. That's not an argument for saying "at any price".

How confident can we be that this deal will be now be ratified?
I'd assume that sovereign Government's that reach a deal will have capacity to deliver it domestically. The US has to go through a whole series of steps. But having gone through the agony of getting the trade negotiating authority and they've got the outcome, will congress turn around and say we don't want this deal. Well the world's a strange place but that would be pretty bizarre.

Crawford Falconer spoke to Herald Business Editor Liam Dann
Crawford Falconer is currently Sir Graeme Harrison Professorial Chair in Global Value Chains and Trade.

He was formerly the Deputy Secretary of the Trade and Economic Group of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). As New Zealand's senior trade official, he managed all trade negotiations between 2009 and 2011 - including WTO, TPP, Korea, Indian, GCC, ACTA, AFTA/CER - and all bilateral trade and economic matters. Prior to that he was New Zealand Ambassador to the WTO in Geneva where he also chaired the Doha Round Agriculture Negotiations from 2005 to 2009.