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No guarantees for NZ policies in trade talks

National Business Review, New Zealand

No guarantees for NZ policies in trade talks

7 December 2010

NZPA. The Government is offering no guarantees that New Zealand policies will not be changed to accommodate United States concerns in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

The fourth round of negotiations for the free trade agreement, encompassing New Zealand, the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, began in Auckland yesterday and will continue until Friday.

The Green Party have warned a number of New Zealand policies could come under attack by the US in the negotiations.

"The current TPP negotiations are about far more than trade," Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said.

"New Zealand’s ability to make its own laws and regulations is currently in the hands of officials meeting behind closed doors in Auckland."

In Parliament today, Dr Norman raised specific concerns about US problems with compulsory GE labelling rules and foreign investment legislation, asking the Government to guarantee New Zealand laws would not be weakened in the negotiations.

Answering on behalf of Trade Minister Tim Groser, Murray McCully said there were a number of negotiation rounds to go and he would not speculate on how those might go.

"I’m sure that from not just the United States, but the other parties to the negotiations, we’ll see many matters floated which they will wish to see progressed in the context of the negotiations," Mr McCully said.

"It’s not helpful for us to speculate about them from this distance, all I can say is that the Government’s positions on most of these matters is well known and that is the approach that our officials will take into the negotiations."

With regard to foreign investment laws, Mr McCully said New Zealand had a framework for ensuring foreign investment was for the benefit of New Zealand.

"The Government recently reviewed the overseas investment regime to ensure that the overseas investment was in our interests, and I can assure the member that that is the approach that New Zealand officials will be taking to these negotiations."