Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Leading up to the TPPA signing

Anti-TPP group warns of US drug plan

2 February, 2016

Prime Minister John Key expects the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be signed as negotiated, despite reports the United States will demand changes on certain next-generation drugs.

Opponents of the multinational trade deal are warning the US will try to strong-arm other nations into accepting longer monopoly protection periods for drugs known as biologics.

medicines and pills Photo: 123RF

Representatives from the 12 nations involved in the TPP are due to sign the agreement in Auckland on Thursday.

The director of US-based advocacy group Public Citizen Global Trade Watch, Lori Wallach, said US Trade Representative Michael Froman - under pressure from Republicans - would seek eight years' monopoly protection rather than five for biologics.

"Mike Froman has already said publicly that he will be asking the other countries to make the additional 'clarification' as he's calling it but in fact it's concessions - that it's eight years, not the five years in the text, for biologics exclusivity."

Peru had already buckled, Ms Wallach said.

"That was one of the partners of New Zealand in insisting that exclusivity not go past five years. The [Peruvian] Ambassador... got ticked off, in the box that Peru is signed off now, by giving a speech in Washington saying publicly Peru recognises there is eight years' exclusivity for biologics."

Mr Key told Morning Report he had not seen details on US demands for new concessions, but expected the deal to be signed "as per the text" of the agreement.

"My understanding though is that when all of the negotiations around biologics were done before the agreement was signed, we got advice from our health officials about the impact of that - and the cost effects were nil on New Zealand.

"The reason for that is because we follow best practice.

"We've got an agreement, we intend to stick to the agreement, and the advice we have on the agreement we've got is that the impact on New Zealand's pharmaceutical costs is essentially zero."

Listen to John Key on Morning Report ( 4 min 25 sec )

Five years' protection sufficient - McClay

Analysts have said the TPP deliberately fudged the protection period for biologics to ensure agreement was reached.

Last year, health economists estimated a three-year extension could add up to $75-150 million to New Zealand's health bill - with that calculation based on just seven biologics.

But New Zealand's Trade Minister, Todd McClay, said the protection period was five years and he had no interest in looking at it again.

"I've had no approach from the US or any other delegation over this issue. I have had discussions more generally around some of the conditions in [the] TPP with my colleague in Australia, and we're united in our view that the agreement that was reached over five years' protection is sufficient. It was part of a wider deal, and New Zealand has no interest in looking at it again."

International Business Forum executive director Stephen Jacobi said US politicians wanted more favourable terms but it was not going to happen, as every country had made compromises.

"I think it will be very difficult to start a conversation about trying to water down some of the things that have already been agreed," he said.

"This has been a very difficult and lengthy negotiation. The consensus around that area was very hard to get. I can't imagine that Ambassador Froman's colleagues will be willing to entertain that sort of representation."

The deal's opponents, however, did not expect that to be the end of it - saying the US would continue to put pressure on other countries to accept concessions and argue the deal had no chance of getting through Congress without them.

Will Key be welcomed at Waitangi?

Northland iwi leaders are meeting to decide whether to allow Prime Minister John Key on to Te Tii Marae on Waitangi Day.

John Key is welcomed to Te Tii Marae John Key welcomed to Te Tii Marae in 2015.    Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua has suggested John Key should be blocked from attending the commemorations if the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal is signed before Waitangi Day.


A hui is taking place at Te Tii Marae to make a decision.

Te Kotahitanga o Nga Hapu Ngapuhi co-chairman Rudy Taylor, who is at the meeting, said Mr Key should be welcomed on the marae, as the only way the government could hear the voice of Ngapuhi was if it fronted up.

Mr Taylor said other marae might step in and welcome Mr Key to their commemorations if he was blocked from Te Tii Marae.

The controversy over the signing of the multi-national trade deal in Auckland on Thursday has extended to the official powhiri, with six iwi in the Tamaki Collective refusing to perform.

Ngāti Whātua o Ōrakei, the mana whenua in Auckland central, has refused to participate because it believes the multinational trade deal will undermine the country's sovereignty. Ngāti Paoa, Te Uri o Hau, Ngāti Te Ata, Ngāti Whanaunga and Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara have also said they would not perform.

The trade deal dominated the Ratana gathering last month, with Maori leaders at the annual celebrations marking the birthday of the Ratana Church founder calling on the government to delay the signing.

TPP pōwhiri struggle continues

Just three or four people could perform the Māori welcome for visiting Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) dignitaries on Thursday which will take place inside the SkyCity Casino away from protesters.

Haka Powhiri as Prince Harry enters Government House. A haka pōwhiri for Prince Harry last year.    Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua spokesman Tame Te Rangi, who is performing the mihi [welcome speech], said he would be welcoming the visitors on behalf of Ngāti Whātua, not the government.

Despite that, there was likely to be wide condemnation from Māori, many of whom oppose the TPP deal, including a group who have lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua Tame Te Rangi.
The Runanga o Ngāti Whātuā is the mandated treaty entity for the Ngāti Whātua tribe and represents five areas, including Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei and Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara who have both opposed participating in the TPP pōwhiri.

Last week Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei said they would not perform the TPP pōwhiri because the deal would undermine the country's sovereignty. Northern Whātua hapu Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara followed suit.
But Mr Te Rangi today said it would perform its hosting role and welcome visitors into Auckland.

The welcome, which Mr Te Rangi said was more a whakatau than a pōwhiri, would be short and simple. It would include a karanga and a mihi rather than than the traditional wero [challenge] and haka pōwhiri [ceremonial welcome].
Māori tikanga exponent Paraone Gloyne said he believed a whakatau was a "fit for purpose pōwhiri, bereft of wero and sometimes karanga".

Mr Gloyne said whakatau had sometimes replaced pōwhiri, and he considered them "institutional pōwhiri".

Mr Te Rangi said there was no need for a wero because that had already been done.
"The wero is performed to check out the credentials of the visitors we've trusted John Key to check them out."

RNZ understands government officials have been working overtime to find a group to perform the pōwhiri for the TPP visitors but with little success.

Three leading Maori performing arts groups told RNZ they were approached in the past week and all declined. One of them, Te Waka Huia, publicly opposed the TPP deal at the Auckland anniversary weekend celebrations and penned a haka to express their distrust.

On social media, Māori have been challenging anyone who might perform the pōwhiri for the TPP visitors, warning they would face a backlash of protest.
Some Ngāti Whātua o Ōrākei members have warned outsiders thinking of participating not to as it was not their place.

The voice of Māori appears to have been united on this issue, with none of the thousands of kapa haka performers who represent hundreds of groups putting their hands up to perform on Thursday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will announce more details on the welcome, including the pōwhiri, at a media briefing later today.

Close your doors for TPP signing, business told


A business near the venue for the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) says it has been advised to close for the day because of threatened protests.

Auckland Council workers are also being told to work outside of the city centre if they can, with demonstrations expected in the area around SkyCity on Thursday.

Barrier erected before  planned TPPA protests at SkyCity. Barrier erected before planned TPPA protests at SkyCity.  Photo: RNZ / Murielle Baker

A barista at a Tevita, a store opposite the Sky Tower, said SkyCity staff had advised them to close the cafe for the day of the protest, and bring their furniture inside.

However he said they would stay open, as protests tended to be good for business.

"It does make a little bit of a distraction, you can hear them banging away and being a bit of a nuisance, but it doesn't affect us much."

Security guards working for SkyCity said plans were in place for the day, and police said that they were planning for every eventuality.

Auckland Council has advised staff that if they can work somewhere other than at their headquarters near SkyCity then they should do so.

Council chief operating officer Dean Kimpton said that was to avoid disruption, rather than any concerns about safety .

He said workshops for 21 councillors and support staff may be moved to Manukau to avoid disruption, but that decision had not been made yet.

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