Free Trade Is Never Free

The Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks are going on in Auckland this week, and there’s a lot at stake. Unfortunately, because the talks are being held behind closed doors, the public debate sort of bounces around on the edges, informed as best it can by leaks, discussions with negotiators and the so-called stakeholders. Not a good way to plot the future of the country, which is what these talks are all about. This isn’t trade as we tend to think of it – selling butter to the British and hamburger meat to the Americans. As (PDF) I wrote in my BOP Times column, these talks range across pretty much every part of the economy.

Werewolf has devoted its entire November issue (No. 36) to the talks. My focus there was on what 12305714041500807562choochus_Wolf_Head_Howl_1.svg.medmost commentators see as the holy grail for New Zealand in all of this: opening up the U.S. market to our dairy exports. Given that we can’t produce enough dairy for all the demand that’s out there now, where’s all the milk going to come from to supply this fabulous new market opportunity? Think: cows! And polluted waterways. Gordon Campbell wrote the lead article, Into the Cave of Dreams, and also investigated the risk to our money-saving drug buying agency Pharmac.

Professor Jane Kelsey at Auckland University has spearheaded a lot of the pushback over the TPP and gathers all the info at a site called It’s Our Future. She came under attack recently in the New Zealand Herald, but Campbell pretty quickly dispatched the criticism.

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