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Arena launches sign-on letter to oppose the P-3

Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Press Release: Arena

Arena Launches Sign On Letter To Oppose The P-3

ARENA today stepped up its campaign against the proposed Chile/New Zealand free trade agreement, which forms part of the Pacific 3 (P-3) with Singapore, by launching a sign-on letter to the Prime Minister calling on her to end the negotiations.

A wide range of trade unions, Maori organisations, sectoral groups, NGOs and solidarity groups have indicated their support for the campaign. The letter will be open for such groups to sign until 31 January 2005.

The lunch of the letter accompanies the release of a summary report CRITIQUE OF THE PROPOSED CHILE/NEW ZEALAND CLOSER ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP (P3 WITH SINGAPORE) by feminist economist academic Prue Hyman and law professor Jane Kelsey. This research has been conducted in conjunction with a sister social justice organisation in Chile, Alianza Chilena Por Un Comercio Justo Y Responsible and is available on the ARENA website www.arena.org.nz.

The sign on letter and a more detailed impact assessment of the P-3 will be delivered to the Prime Minister in early February.

For further information contact Leigh Cookson, Director of ARENA (arena.nz@clear.net.nz) on 03 3662803 xxx


We, the undersigned voices from trade unions, non-government organisations, social movements and indigenous peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand express our dismay that the proposed free trade and investment agreement between Aotearoa New Zealand, Chile and the government of Singapore (known as the Pacific 3 or P-3) is likely to undermine fundamental human rights and social justice. On the basis of the limited amount of information that has been made available and previous similar agreements, we believe that the broad philosophy of the agreement and its specific provisions will:

- disrespect and violate the rights of indigenous peoples as enunciated in the United Nations (draft) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, te Tiriti o Waitangi and ILO Convention 169, especially rights to land, cultural integrity, indigenous knowledge and self-determination;

- threaten the livelihoods of small farmers by deepening their dependence on agribusinesses that already dominate the dairy, fruit and forestry sectors. In particular we are concerned that the proposed joint venture of Fonterra/Soprole and Nestle is part of a regional strategy to control dairy production in Latin America and maximise their profits at the expense of small farmers and farm workers;

- fuel the race to the bottom in wages and conditions of workers who have no way of enforcing compliance with the core ILO Conventions. A free trade and investment agreement with New Zealand risks deepening the existing exploitation of primary sector workers in Chile, many of whom are already denied job security, healthy workplaces, liveable pension entitlements, and the right to organise collectively or belong to a trade union;

- increase poverty levels and inequality between individuals and families. This will impact especially on women through their overrepresentation in low waged work and primary responsibility for household work and child care and family budgeting, and intensify the ‘feminisation of poverty’.

- protect the interests of foreign investors in land, forestry, mines, rivers and other resources, utilities, services, and intellectual property, even where they engage in grossly exploitive practices. It will also grant foreign investors enforceable rights that take precedence over the rights and needs of local peoples and communities;

- jeopardise cultural integrity and erode the state’s ability to promote genuine cultural diversity at a local, national and international level through the commodification of culture and knowledge under rules on investment, intellectual property and services. The same rules will increase risks of biopiracy by transnational corporations.

- place at risk affordable access to and control over services, both of which are essential to the lives of communities. That risk is increased through insistence on the adoption of a negative list. Once signed, such an agreement will prevent future governments from pursuing policies that give primacy to the needs of those communities by providing services that are accessible, affordable and appropriate.

- validate a secretive and antidemocratic process of Executive lawmaking that prevents effective and informed participation and scrutiny by the legislature or the citizenry. Further, the P-3 will constrain the ability of future governments to adopt policies and laws that promote the interests of the people;

- impose such constraints without any balanced and independent cost-benefit analysis of the implications for economic, social, cultural and human rights; and

- reinforce the market-driven model of competition and profit-maximisation, and the accompanying neoliberal policies of privatisation, deregulation, trade liberalisation, foreign control and fiscal austerity. Further entrenching this neoliberal agenda denies us the right to choose an alternative pathway of social justice and people-centred models of development.


 source: Scoop