Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – TPPA

Our government is, at the moment, in Beijing, negotiating an agreement with 11 other Pacific countries about free trade. The countries include USA, Japan and other Pacific countries. The agreement would affect about 40% of world trade.

Yesterday large numbers of people marched in the street to protest against New Zealand signing the TPPA. About 2,000 in Auckland, 1,000 in Wellington and Christchurch and 400 in Dunedin took part in the protest. Protesters also marched in smaller cities like Tauranga.

It is difficult to know exactly how the TPPA would affect New Zealand because the talks are secret. However, some information leaked by Wikileaks has many people worried that big business, especially American companies, would control our trade. In particular, our medicines would become more expensive. Pharmac, which buys our medicines, is often able to buy generic drugs, those which do not have a brand name but have the same ingredients. Protesters say that Pharmac would be forced to buy brand name drugs. Another worry is the power of foreign companies. Perhaps they could challenge New Zealand laws that do not suit them.

Farmers on the other hand want more access to free trade. Many countries, such as USA, put trade tariffs on farm products, like lamb, from New Zealand.

Trade ministers from these 12 countries have been talking about the TPPA for 5 years and still have not reached an agreement. Our Trade Minister, Tim Grosser, thinks there will be an agreement by the middle of next year.

Vocabulary

• negotiate – bargain
• leaked – secret information that someone has given the public
• drugs – for medical use, medicines (not illegal drugs)
• ingredients – the contents of the medicine, the chemicals etc
• suit (v) – please, satisfy
• tariffs – import taxes






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