An expected free trade agreement with ASEAN nations will increase New Zealand’s official links with the Burmese military regime.
The ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) is currently under negotiation with the expectation that a draft will be agreed later this month. An announcement of the agreement is expected at the ASEAN Economic Minister’s meeting in late August.
Trade between New Zealand and Burma is limited (see figures below), and it is not expected that trade in goods will increase to significant levels as a result of this agreement. However, as the Burmese regime maintains monopolies on the export of most of the country’s products and much of the economy is controlled by the military, any business with Burma is likely to put money directly into the hands of the repressive government.
The agreement may also see an increase in contract work and service provision. A New Zealand state-owned company, Kordia, has previously done engineering work on cell tower installations for government-controlled Myanmar Post and Telecommunications. Continue reading
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade recently announced the opening of negotiations with Singapore, Chile and Brunei to extend a two year old trade and investment agreement (the grandly named Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership – often known as the P4) into investment and financial services. Any extension into investment would certainly limit the Government’s right to regulate overseas ownership of New Zealand assets. What makes these negotiations especially significant is the announcement that the US is joining in.
Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) has launched a campaign against New Zealand signing any such agreement.
New Zealand Not For Sale Campaign
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is arriving in Auckland this Friday night and will be having meetings in Auckland on Saturday with Winston Peters, Helen Clark and John Key among others. She will also be meeting with the US-NZ Council who will be trying to push for a free trade deal between New Zealand the United States. A free trade agreement will not be in either country’s best interest and we must continue to oppose the neoliberal free trade agenda.
She provides the soft public face for a host of aggressive, immoral policies to expand the US empire. For example she has fronted policies resulting in the death of one million Iraqi civilians in return for US control of Iraq’s oil resources and was a key player in setting up Guantanamo Bay, the United State’s illegal millitary prison in on foreign soil where prisoners are tortured. She should be indicted for war crimes, not welcomed to our country.
A protest march to her state welcoming at Government House will be held to tell her that she is NOT welcome here. This will be followed by a protest from 3.15pm outside the Langham Hotel in Symonds Street where she is scheduled to meet National Party Leader John Key. There is also a $5000 reward offered by the Auckland University Students Association for any student who places Condoleezza Rice under a Citizen’s Arrest.
Saturday 26th July
1:30pm at Auckland Domain cnr Carlton Gore and Parks Roads
3:15pm outside the Langham Hotel on Symonds Streeet
Bring noise makers, placards and banners
Around 100 people marched down Queen Street to the Hilton Hotel to protest against the NZ-US Partnership Forum. The forum, which brings together representatives of the two governments as well as from major US and NZ corporations to work on tightening the economic and political links between the two nations, was moved in the last minute from the Auckland Museum to the Hilton Hotel.
The protests had begun earlier in the day with a picket at the road corner by approximately 20 people, during the time Prime Minister Helen Clark arrived at the forum. The main march began at Aotea Square at 12 noon, with protesters taking the street, setting off flares and chanting all the way to the Hilton. Upon arrival at the Forum venue, a stand-off began with the police. After a short period, a scuffle erupted when the police attempted to open one lane to allow vehicles to enter and exit the area, an attempt which succeeded despite some resistance from a number of people. Some time later the police made a decision to open the remaining lane and force the protesters onto the footpath behind plastic barriers. In the ensuing altercation, three people were arrested and several injured.
The protests highlighted a number of issues. Our World Is Not For Sale spokesperson Ryan Bodman stated that the results of a free trade agreement between the US and Australia have included “the degradation of environmental protection, particularly in relation to genetic engineering of food, the degredation of quarantine laws, an economic nightmare for small farmers and businesses, a huge increase in australia’s trade defecit with the us, reduced access to affordable Australian pharmaceuticals and threats to australian manufacturing jobs.” The same results and others can be expected if an NZ/US agreement is signed.
Links: Our World Is Not For Sale campaign | Protest Timeline | Our World Is Not For Sale Press Release | Pre-Protest Feature | Pre-Protest police repression | Protest Reports: 1 | 2 | 3
Images : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Video : 1 | 2 | 3
This September in Auckland a high-profile meeting, the US-NZ Partnership Forum, will further talks on creating a free trade deal between the US and NZ. President George W Bush is said to be making an appearance.
A free trade agreement would allow US corporations to sue our government for threatening their profits. It puts all of Aotearoa up for sale to US corporations. Their free trade agreement will “remove barriers” to US corporate control. Changes could include;
- Privatisation of our water, schools and hospitals.
- Removal of our environmental and public health protections.
- End of local content funding for TV and Music.
- Banning labelling of genetically engineered food.
- End to government subsidies of medicines
This is your chance to tell our government to put people and planet before profits.
Tomorrow might be too late.