Powerful US senator in town to push controversial free trade deal
"Let's not sell our trade rights for a few other non-existent political perks. It is comical that the Chinese are fairer trading partners than the US."Featured comment
One of the most power US senators has arrived in New Zealand to promote the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free pact, currently under negotiation.
Montana Democrat Max Baucus - the head of the Senate's Finance committee, and first elected to represent his state in 1978 - will meet with Prime Minister John Key, Trade Minister Tim Groser, Speaker Lockwood Smith and Maori business leaders.
Our government is already a staunch supporter of the TPP, which has been under negotiation by Pacific Rim countries since 2005.
Agreement has yet to be reachec on a key section of the free trade deal - a US authored chapter on copyright, which opponents say is heavy-handed and would require the re-writing of NZ laws. They see it not just impacting on those who try to play an out-of-region DVD, but the likes of NZ generic drug maker Douglas Pharmaceuticals and retailers who parallel import.
Our government opposes the copyright chapter.
But members of recently-formed lobby group A Fair Deal fear that Mr Groser will make trade-offs on intellectual property issues to ensure access to the US market for our agricultural products. (It was sharp comments about the US approach at the Fair Deal launch that led Judge David Harvey to remove himself from the Kim Dotcom extradition case).
Can I interest you in some Montana beef?
Mr Baucus will be arguing for the US chapter.
His website details additional points of focus as it describes the trip:
"As leader of the Senate Committee that oversees trade, Baucus will promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership - a new free trade agreement that provides the United States with a critical opportunity to break down barriers that have made it difficult to sell Montana products, like beef, in some of the world's most important markets."
"New Zealand is a critical partner for us in securing a Trans-Pacific Partnership that will make it easier for Montana to sell our world-class goods in the growing Pacific market and make sure our trading partners play by the rules. When the playing field is level, Montana's farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs can compete with the best in the world."
Senator Baucus sponsored a visit by New Zealand Ambassador to the United States Mike Moore to Montana as part of the Baucus' 2010 Ambassadors Tour.