The Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal is one of those litmus issues that has always had more to do with one’s place on the political spectrum than with any imminent reality. To date, the Greens have opposed (a) a wide range of the leaked content of the TPP (b) the secretive way it has been negotiated and (c) the undemocratic way in which any final document would be ratified. Labour has shared some of those concerns, but while remaining generally supportive of the deal itself. To date, Labour has restricted its criticisms to the (limited) role of Parliament in its ratification, and the possible fate of Pharmac in the bargaining process.
National has, for its part, been very enthusiastic about the TPP, while still giving assurances about Pharmac being protected. Even so, at the outset of the December 2012 Auckland meeting of TPP negotiators, NZ Trade Minister Tim Groser publicly – and unilaterally – announced the government’s readiness to change some of the “transparency” issues to do with Pharmac’s operations. As this article explains, even a benign-sounding term such as “transparency” can still expose Pharmac to litigation from drug companies and impinge on its discretion to seek cheaper medicines for New Zealand consumers.
For the TPP’s friends and foes alike though, the end now seems nigh. Read the rest of this entry »