Small protest greets free trade delegates

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 11:04 06/12/2010
TRADE GAMBLE: A protester outside the Grand Hotel in Auckland where free trade talks are being held.
MICHAEL FIELD
TRADE GAMBLE: A protester outside the Grand Hotel in Auckland where free trade talks are being held.

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Delegates from eight nations began a week of free trade talks in Auckland today.

The behind-closed-doors talks at the Grand Hotel on the creation of a Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement were briefly picketed by a 30-strong, plus a baby, protest organised by the Unite Union.

A small squad of police allowed the group, including veteran protester John Minto and his baby son, to protest with a loud speaker.

New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, the United States, Australia, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam are taking part in the talks.

US consumer advocacy group Public Citizen yesterday released a confidential New Zealand paper, which showed there was a disagreement between New Zealand and the US on intellectual property.

This adds to a stand-off over whether dairy access is even on the table, and New Zealand’s apparent rejection of an investor-state disputes mechanism in a TPPA.

Protester and academic Jane Kelsey described the leak as "hugely significant".

"Daylight is at last beginning to shine on these secretive negotiations. But we shouldn't have to rely on leaks to be able to prepare expert analyses and generate informed debate about what our governments are proposing."

Kelsey congratulated the New Zealand government for standing up against the prevailing US demands on intellectual property and urged it to maintain and strengthen its resolve.

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