New Zealand’s Trade Minister, Tim Groser, is continuing to mislead people about the way that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) would affect health, according to a Voxy story quoting Dr. Gay Keating of Doctors for Healthy Trade.
“Saying that the TPPA won’t stop government making health regulation is like saying that there is nothing to stop anyone buying a house in Auckland,” Keating, a public health specialist and researcher, was reported to have said. “The TPPA will make it much harder and much more expensive for government to get to its goal of Smokefree Aotearoa [New Zealand] by 2025.
“Recent statements from the Minister have repeated carefully-contrived half-truths. He keeps saying that the government will not be prevented from regulating in the public interest. That is simply misleading.
“Of course the TPPA won’t have a clause that New Zealand can’t make smoke-free regulations. But the TPPA would let companies sue us if we followed World Health Organization advice and brought in stricter controls on tobacco. The TPPA would make it too expensive and too risky to bring in those law changes. The Minister is being misleading. Under the TPPA there will be nothing to stop us passing smoke-free laws except the potentially exorbitant price tag,” she said.
The TPPA, sometimes referred to as the TPP, has come under fire from a range of organizations in a number of countries. It is being negotiated in secret by representatives of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.
Not much is known about the TPPA negotiations because of the strict secrecy surrounding them and the little information that has emerged has been courtesy of Wikileaks.
But it is understood that the TPP would include ISDS (investor state dispute settlement) provisions and it is these that are proving to be one of the most controversial issues. As far as is known, ISDS provisions would allow a company that invested in a country to sue that country if regulations were enacted that harmed its business, even in the event that those regulations were designed to improve the health of the nation. Such actions are possible now, but they have to be conducted before a court of law in the country concerned. Under ISDS, such actions would be brought before tribunals operating in secret outside of the country’s judicial system. None of the tribunal’s deliberations would be made public despite the fact that taxpayers would have to foot the bill for the defense and, if the company were to prevail, whatever judgement were made against the country.