Jayson Rhodes and Simone Olsen
The Anglican and Catholic bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand have written to the Government asking for more transparency in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) currently under government negotiation, so New Zealanders can better evaluate its implications.
The bishops acknowledge the right and duty of any New Zealand government to promote our country’s trading opportunities and are mindful the wellbeing of New Zealanders depends on economic growth.
However, the lack of transparency and public involvement relating to the TPP is a cause for great concern. The sense of unease stretches across the community, and includes people in business, academics and unionists.
Corporate interests are party to the TPP negotiations and able to exert influence in favour of their own interests, while the people are excluded.
This leads to the belief that ordinary New Zealanders, and particularly those who are poorer, will be disadvantaged by the TPP, and all the benefits will accrue to those who already have considerable wealth.
The bishops accept secrecy may be the norm in ordinary trade agreements, but the TPP is more than just a trade negotiation. It has the capacity to reach into domestic economies, and to dictate what happens within a nation’s own political and legal systems.
In the parallel Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) much of the secrecy has been lifted by the European Commission with the introduction of a number of measures to enhance transparency in the negotiations and to allow public scrutiny and consultation.
The bishops have asked the Government to give serious consideration to making the draft text of the TPP available, so New Zealanders can to evaluate for themselves, according to their own principles, the potential negatives and positives of the TPP.
Jayson Rhodes is Communications Adviser for the Anglican Bishops and Simone Olsen is Communications Adviser for the Catholic Bishops.