New Zealand Telling US Congress What to Do

March 19, 2015


One aspect of the trade and global governance deals is that other countries, and global courts, tell the US what we can and cannot do.

The New Zealand trade minister has now "ramped up the pressure on the U.S. Congress to pass a [fast track] Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill, saying the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations cannot enter their real end game until that happens and that failure by Congress to act could cause the talks to stagnate like the Doha round." World Trade Online, 3/18/15, subscription only.

Hmm.  I'm sure USTR's Michael Froman had nothing to do with this. Congress should ask... why should we care what the New Zealand trade minister says?

Further, does New Zealand have Fast Track?  Does Australia, Chile, Peru, Canada, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Japan, Canada, Mexico or any other TPP country have Fast Track? Do their legislatures or parliaments have constitutional authority over trade?  If so, do those countries pass bills conveying that authority to their king or trade minister or prime minister to do a massive trade deal in secret with guarantees that there will be little oversight?

Yes, the TPP may be a walking zombie like Doha.  But that's because trade agreements have lost their luster.  The grand promises of the past may have benefited Boeing, Hyundai, GE, Alibaba and offshoring havens like Mexico and China, but who else? And trade agreements are not so much about trade as globalizing domestic policy like tax, financial services, intellectual property, government procurement rules, etc. Who wants that?

Congress and the public need to be fully in the know as these trade deals are negotiated.  If there are problems, they can be solved right away during the negotiations. Fast Track is basically an attempt to avoid oversight and scrutiny and frustrate any attempt to reclaim the national interest in net positive trade deals.  Past presidents did not have fast track and we grew faster then.  Why upend the constitutional system now just because Michael Froman and New Zealand's trade minister want it?

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