New Zealand is coming under intense pressure in the Trans Pacific Partnership to give way on its demands for dairy access into Japan, Canada and the US.
Trade Minister Tim Groser is vowing to hold the line on what he says has become a very emotional issue…
This comes as the three countries say that if the TPP talks fail it will be because of New Zealand’s dairy demands.
Mr Groser told POLITIK that Japan has to improve on its offer of a dairy quota to New Zealand of 30,000 tonnes of milk equivalent.
Japanese media say Mr Groser has asked for triple that.
“This has become a very sensitive issue, “he said last night.
“I personally, and New Zealand through me, have been attacked by numerous sources in the Japanese media as well as Canada.
“I learned at the age of six that when someone attacks you, you hit back.
“And that it essentially what I have done though in extremely measured and professional terms.
“I have corrected the imbalance.
“I am not going to allow our country to be singled out as the cause of a failure.”
Mr Groser hinted that New Zealand had been left to face the three big countries on its own.
Asked where the Australians were he said:” Their industry is very unhappy but of course it (dairy) is a relatively minor part of the Australian export equation. Let me just leave it there.”
Mr Groser believes that despite the claims being made about New Zealand’s position, there will be agreement on the TPP.
“I think it extremely unlikely that we will fail,” he said.
“I think we will get the job done politically by the end of the year.”
He said that the rest of the deal – apart from dairy at this stage — was very good and this is our only chance to negotiate access into the four giant economics that we don’t have free trade agreements with, Mexico, the United States, Canada and Japan.”
He cited his own experience as an official working on a proposed trade agreement with the US back in the 1980s.
“We have been trying for 30 years to do this.”
Earlier in Parliament during Question Time, Labour’s trade spokesman, David Parker asked Mr Groser if he would undertake that the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its investor-State dispute settlement clauses would not prevent a future New Zealand Government from banning the sale of New Zealand homes to foreign buyers from Trans-Pacific Partnership countries.
Mr Grosser’s reply contained a clear hint that New Zealand might be able to apply those bans in future.
“What the agreement will say on that is still under negotiation,” he said.
“It may interest the member, at the time when I am in a position to answer that more fully.”
Having the ability to ban future house sales to foreigners is a key condition Labour is imposing on its possible support for the TPP.
If Mr Groser can succeed in negotiating this then it will it difficult for Labour to oppose the agreement.
But there was perhaps a hint of the divisions within Labour on this issue yesterday when Labour’s Finance spokesman, Grant Robertson was carrying a box with a label “100,000 New Zealanders say no to TPP”.
Meanwhile Reuters has reported that Japan has expressed concern about a loss of momentum in talks on the TPP after participants failed to agree to meet again this month.
Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari, in a blog circulated on Tuesday, also questioned why the United States appeared to have lacked its usual “stubborn persistence” at those talks, despite a willingness of some countries to stay to try to reach an agreement.
“The reason I stressed … that we should meet again this month was because each country might lose interest and (the talks) would go adrift,” Amari wrote.
“If they lose interest, it would take considerable time and effort to get motivation back to the original level, because the key to success is whether each country can maintain momentum towards an agreement.”
Amari said that the United States was vague about a concrete time frame and it appeared its negotiators needed a break.
Amari reiterated that a dispute over intellectual property protection for data used to develop biologic drugs, which Washington insists should be 12 years, and gaps over access to member countries’ dairy markets – a key issue for New Zealand – were major sticking points.
“What every country thought was strange was that the United States did not show its usual stubborn persistence this time but simply gave up,” he wrote, adding that the U.S. negotiators seemed to have judged that agreement could not be reached in a day or two.
Failure to clinch a deal was a setback for U.S. President Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia and efforts to counter China’s clout. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also cast the deal as crucial to his efforts to reboot Japan’s stale economy.