Tuesday, June 23, 2015

In Plain Language: TPP (Part 2)

Today the US Senate passed fast track authority (TPA) for the TPP. I wrote about the implications last week as there was some who viewed that this wasn't going to pass because it was being separated from the TAA. So now what does this mean?

Basically POTUS now has powers that all other previous presidents have had when negotiating a trade deal. When the deal is completed and comes to Congress, it's "ratification" will be an up or down vote (no amendments) and with a simple majority. While this shores up the administration's negotiating powers the lack of TAA still poses a problem. That legislation is designed to protect US workers from job losses from the trade deal and the US politicians haven't come to an agreement on that. However, this is an issue for US domestic politics and has far less bearing on the actual deal or how it affects the rest of us.

So does that mean everything is over? 

In short, yes. Probably. However, there is a period of time the TPP text will be available to the public before Congress votes. The public can consider it and persuade their representatives to give a down vote if they don't like the deal. If there is enough opposition in the US maybe the majority will vote against it which is highly unlikely. I stress this because it's basically impossible.

What does it mean for Kiwis? 

I think we should be afforded the same privilege. I think we should be able to see the text too just like Americans. I don't know what the timing of it will be but maybe if we also get to the see the text or Parliament doesn't get to vote on it until the text is available to Americans, we can buy some time until the next government. This also means the next government cannot be a National-led government. In short, we are fighting a losing battle. As I mentioned, our concerns are not the same as the Americans'. Our biggest concern should be our healthcare system and given the attack it's under due to the TPP, that should be the central issue. The problem is - most Kiwis were against asset sales and making that a central campaign issue didn't change the outcome of the election. The Brits love their NHS but threats of dismantling didn't stop the Tories from getting it.

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