c/o: Rt. Hon John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and the Rt. Hon Tim Groser, Minister of Trade:
We, the small, and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) of New Zealand, doubt the claim put forward by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will “unleash greater opportunities for small to medium sized businesses in particular”. We are concerned that elements of the agreement in its current form may favour large transnational corporations and negatively impact New Zealand SMEs and citizens. SMEs comprise over 97% of enterprises in New Zealand. They play a key role in the New Zealand economy.
We support trade. It is important for the New Zealand economy and society as a whole. But trade should be on fair terms, allow the emergence of SMEs and serve the wellbeing of all regions. The high level of Kiwi social and environmental standards, and our democratic system, must not be sacrificed to international corporate interests.
There are specific issues that might disadvantage SMEs. Access to Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is only available to foreign corporations. They are able to go beyond our courts to an international tribunal and challenge New Zealand’s laws and regulations, including those that support fair access and opportunities for SMEs. These rights are not available to New Zealand business.
Provisions on public procurement and State Owned Enterprises are likely to offer enhanced access to multinationals (potentially at the local government level as well as for central government), and prevent any preferences for SMEs. Most SMEs rely on our domestic market, including public procurement, in our early stages of growth. This generates benefits for the local economy, employment opportunities, community development and opportunities for further business development, for the interests of New Zealand as a whole. The development of a local, responsive supply base of SMEs that understands our society, cultures and environment also benefits the public enterprises in the long term. These benefits would be put at risk by procurement provisions in the TPPA.
We support policies that enhance, rather than limit, our ability as a country to regulate in our own interests on economic issues such as intellectual property, copyright, internet access, investment, financial services, and government procurement. As New Zealand citizens we also care deeply about our environment and our society. We are concerned that the TPPA may undermine the role of future governments to legislate in the public interest.
The lack of transparency and of the negotiations and the unwillingness of the NZ government to discuss the agreement violate basic democratic principles. We don’t want an unidentified amount of access to international markets in exchange for unknown regulations that could cripple our democracy and economy.
We demand that the New Zealand Government abandon signing the TPP unless the following six points are met:
1. The full text of the agreement is made public prior to signing.
2. The ISDS provisions that would allow foreign corporations to sue the New Zealand government are rejected.
3. It is ensured that the agreement does not reduce the ability of Government procurement to preference local enterprises.
4. A comprehensive and independent review of the agreement is undertaken, including specific analysis of the losses and gains for New Zealand SMEs.
5. The agreement is put to a Select Committee with at least one month consultation period.
6. A full Parliamentary debate and vote takes place before signing the agreement.
‘Potential benefits of the TPPA’, MFAT website
‘SME Research Hub’, Government Economics Network