Trade Minister Tim Groser is adamant that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be a good for the country.
“I am absolutely certain that this will be a great deal for New Zealand along the lines we’re negotiating.”
Tim Groser is confident the TPP will have a marginal impact on public institutions like Pharmac.
“It certainly won’t result in higher prices for pharmaceutical products for New Zealanders. This is really about protecting the model of Pharmac to ensure that they’re in a tough negotiating position with international pharmaceutical companies, and we’ve got some very good negotiators who are doing just that.”
Groser says parallel importing will continue as long as it’s consistent with intellectual property law.
“There’s some complicated issues about the interface of this with copyright and that’s a legitimate concern, and our negotiators will work their way through those issues.”
He concedes that this negotiation is the ‘most complicated negotiation’ that he has ever seen.
He denies concerns that Fonterra will have to be broken up.
“Fonterra is not at risk. This is a negotiating tactic used by those people who want to restrict New Zealand’s access into their market because this is something New Zealand’s deeply competitive, but we will work our way through those issues.”
Groser says the TPP will create thousands of jobs for New Zealanders and open up huge opportunities for our export industries.
“The crucial element …is that our principal export items are not excluded from comprehensive liberalisation. That’s the real red line. I think in terms of concerns around Pharmac, we’ve already made it abundantly clear that we will defend those public institutions, and we will ensure that there is policy space for future governments.“
He is defending the need for secrecy around the agreement.
“You have to understand this that if you put out texts into the public with different and conflicting negotiating positions, lobbies who are opposed to change will seize on that
text, will try to stop the negotiators showing any compromise. “
He says that we have already lowered the barriers to competitive imports in this country, almost more than any country in this negotiation and haven’t got much to lose.
“Frankly, we haven’t. If we were talking about where we were in the mid-‘80s, my goodness me, I remember when I was involved first in the Treasury and then in Foreign Affairs in the CER negotiations, where we had, you know, massive import licensing, high, high tariffs. “
Tim Groser hopes to have the TPP signed by the end of the year.
Watch the full interview here.
More: Read Vikram Kumar's response to Mr Groser's Q&A appearance.