Former trade negotiator Charles Finny says there is still much to do to demystify the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Finny writes some Q&As to put the facts straight.

There is no value in TPP without the United States

This is not true for New Zealand. NZ does not have a free trade agreement with Japan but competitors such as Chile and Australia do. TPP 11 (TPP minus the US) would allow us to level the playing field with these competitors. There are meaningful liberalisation outcomes in other economies - Mexico, Peru and Canada, with whom we don't have free trade deals.

But aren't we imposing huge costs by this agreement to the benefit of the US?
There are some "costs" in the form of increased transparency for Pharmac, increased patent terms and longer copyright terms. And yes, these are things the US argued for in the original talks. But these "costs" are far more modest than the gains from the agreement cited above.

Why don't we remove these provisions?
Well there are things in the agreement other parties don't like either. For example, Japan doesn't like the agriculture provisions. If we all start seeking deletions we will have a substantial renegotiation and an outcome that greatly reduces the value of the agreement to New Zealand. Plus one day we hope the United States will see reason and seek to join what is a good agreement for the US.


But won't US firms still be able to sue the New Zealand Government?
No, the investor state dispute settlement provisions only apply to the 11 parties to the agreement. The US is, at this stage, not a party any more.

Likewise the US will not benefit from the substantial tariff cuts and services commitments that were agreed in TPP by the other parties.

I don't like TPP because it is secret. I don't know what is in it.
Well the full text, including all annexes, has been public since negotiations were concluded. That is well over a year ago. Have a look at every word on

It is probably true that negotiators could have been more transparent during the negotiating process. Trade Minister Todd McClay concedes this and has pledged to be as transparent as possible in future negotiations, including over TPP 11.

I oppose TPP because it restricts the Government from regulating to protect the environment or workers.
This is a common criticism, but it is patently untrue. The agreement states many times that Governments maintain the right to regulate, including to protect the environment and uphold labour standards. Indeed the agreement contains specific chapters on the environment and labour standards. These are designed to bring policy in some other parties closer to the standards adopted by New Zealand and some others.

Why do you support TPP 11 Mr Finny?
I support TPP 11 because it will help grow NZ exports and increase the value of some existing exports. This in turn will create more jobs and higher-value jobs throughout our economy. The positives far outweigh any negatives. We would be stupid to walk away from this deal.