by NZ Catholic staff
The Anglican and Catholic bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand called for more transparency concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) currently being negotiated, so that New Zealanders can better evaluate its implications.
The bishops, in a letter to the government, acknowledged the right and duty of any New Zealand government to promote our country’s trading opportunities and are mindful that the well-being of New Zealanders depends on economic growth.
However, they said 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.
They added 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 TPPA and all the benefits will accrue to those who already have considerable wealth, they said.
The bishops accepted that secrecy may be the norm in ordinary trade agreements, but the TPP is more than just a trade negotiation. They asserted that 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 that New Zealanders are able to evaluate for themselves, according to their own principles, the potential negatives and positives of the TPP.