I still can’t get over the estimations of how little this deal is worth to us. From MFAT:
- estimated GDP gains for New Zealand of US$2 billion in the year 2025 (a 0.9% increase in GDP);
- estimated export gains for New Zealand of US$4.1 billion in the year 2025 (a 6.8% increase in exports);
- and further income gains (up to US$2.1 billion) are estimated from a lift in the terms of trade and greater consumer access to goods and services.
Just to put that in perspective our GDP grew by 0.8% in the first quarter of this year. So the TPP will deliver the equivalent of a couple of months of growth in ten years time. Now, our diplomatic corps has been working on this for about ten years, and they cost us well over a quarter of a billion dollars a year. Have we spent more putting this trade partnership together than we’ll actually earn from it?
Then there are the costs from the deal itself. We don’t know whether investor state dispute mechanisms are going to be a disaster or a big nothing. We do know about the intellectual property provisions because they were leaked to WikiLeaks, and that we’re increasing the duration of copyright from fifty years after a creator’s death to seventy years. What’s interesting there is that advocates for free trade deals in general and the TPP in particular have always talked about the economic merits of these deals. They’re about opening economies up, creating benefits for consumers. They’re about freedom! But there isn’t an economic case to be made for the expansion of US copyright laws. Just about every economist alive thinks the US model is awful: anti-competitive and anti-innovation and terrible for consumers. So in this very significant way the TPP is a move away from free markets.
The whole things feels more-and-more like a bait-and-switch, just as its critics warned throughout the process. All the way through the secret negotiations the government promised us that the gains from the free trade elements of the deal would be awesome. Just you wait! And now we’ve seen them and even the parties that negotiated the deal admit that they’re mediocre. The most significant provisions aren’t about free trade or are actually anti-free trade, but the advocates for the deal keep attacking its critics on the basis that they’re ‘anti-free trade’.
The government’s cheerleaders are attacking the deal’s critics instead of celebrating the wins from the deal because there aren’t really any wins. Matthew Hooton’s NBR column on TPP was all about speculating on which Labour MPs would cross the floor to vote in favor of the TPPA, when no such vote will take place and even if it did the government has the numbers to pass legislation without the opposition – because that is a more favorable topic of discussion than the merits of the deal.