Secret trade deal Key is signing with America will rob us of sovereignty
US trade demands a real sore point
What the United States is seeking on intellectual property in the transpacific trade talks has been leaked. Some of it looks downright sinister.
A balance has to be struck between on the one hand fostering innovation and creativity, by protecting the fruits of such labours, and on the other stifling progress, by making it too difficult and costly to access and build on the discoveries of others.
In the context of trade negotiations, countries' views will naturally depend very much on whether they are net exporters or net importers of goods and services with a high intellectual property content.
That said, it is hard not to choke on this provision in the leaked US draft of an intellectual property rights chapter for a Transpacific Partnership Agreement:
"Each party shall make patents available for inventions for the following:
(a) plants and animals, and
(b) diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical methods for the treatment of humans or animals."
Professor Susy Frankel, who teaches intellectual property law at Victoria University, says that under New Zealand law, patents are not available for those things.
It is judge-made law at the moment but legislation before Parliament, and already reported back from select committee, would put that exception into statute.
Clause (b) would also completely reverse a provision in the existing free trade agreement between Australia and the US.
Also, the US NGO Knowledge Ecology International says that under US law, surgeons who perform patented surgical methods are not liable for patent infringement. Which raises the question of what was the point of granting a patent in the first place?
This free trade deal John Key is secretly negotiating before the election minus any scrutiny beyond the corporate and political elite will have a much more negative impact on our future economic sovereignty than anything China is attempting, yet any real public perception of the threat this deal will actually cause is almost non-existent. The bellows of 'National Sovereignty' attached to anything China does compared to the dead silence at the vast swindle America are about to commit certainly opens us up to charges of xenophobia.
This oxymoronically named 'free trade' deal secretly being cut with America will do the following...
More expensive medicines
No local content in broadcasting
Weaker controls on overseas investment in NZ
Foreign investors suing the Government for millions in offshore tribunals
Weaker regulation of the financial services
Undermining action on climate change
Delays and restrictions on agricultural market access to the US
John Key breathlessly told a complaint mainstream media that we would make "billions and billions" from this free trade deal with America and the complaint mainstream media breathlessly repeated those claims with no critical analysis of his claims whatsoever.
How humiliating for our compliant mainstream uncritical media then when wikileaks reveals the "billions and billions" claims is utter nonsense and an out right lie...
US free-trade deal suspect
A FREE-TRADE deal with the United States may not be the economic miracle it's been painted as.
New Zealand's chief trade negotiator Mark Sinclair privately told a visiting US State Department official that New Zealand had little to gain from a free-trade agreement. This view – recorded in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks – differs from the one the public has been given.
When the US joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks in November last year, Prime Minister John Key said it could be worth "billions and billions" to New Zealand, and that a deal would "position New Zealand brilliantly for growth".
But in a meeting in February, Sinclair told US Deputy Assistant Frankie Reed "there is a public perception that getting into the US will be an `El Dorado' for New Zealand's commercial sector. However, the reality is different".
He said New Zealand would need to "manage" public expectations about the benefits of a US free-trade agreement.
New Zealanders should know what John Key is signing in our name rather than allow his smile and wave to block any real criticism.