Summary Of Day One
This summary is an opportunity to consolidate our thinking after the various panels yesterday. I thought I’d start with a framework that came to my mind for slotting all that information, passion, reflection that we were privileged to be part of. Then I want you to write on the three post-it notes you’ve been given, your own reflection on the three themes I set out below based on what you heard or came into the hui with: the most important values and objectives for trade policy; an idea which responds to the theme of alternative trade forms and alternatives to trade; and reflections on the agreements themselves that would support these alternative trade forms or alternatives to trade, which themselves support the values and objectives that you have.
A really strong theme defined from the beginning from the hui whakatau from Ngati Whatua and expressed especially strongly in the panel on Te Tiriti, that trade is a means of relationships, a way that we relate to each other within our communities, a tool that we use to relate to the wider world. In any relationship, for us to be truly in an equal or respectful relationship we need to first define ourselves, we need to know who we are, we need to be relating to others from a position of clarity about our kaupapa, our values and our objectives. That came through very clearly yesterday. A lot of the discourse and evidence about trade, and our approach to trade as a nation, is that it does not operate with clarity or agreement about who we are as a nation and what we want to achieve within our communities.
I broke things down into three key themes from yesterday which relate to our kaupapa in this gathering, which is to develop alternatives and progressive models for Aotearoa in relation to trade with wider world.
The values and objectives that inform our trade policy, and the alternative values and objectives that would be needed to inform an alternative trade policy or approach to trade. What came through very strongly was the importance of values and objectives which enable flourishing within our own communities, which allow various forms of democratic participation in defining our economic and social objectives as individual communities, whether its South Auckland or Ngati Porou or Tuhoe or other types of communities. There was a very strong sense that the objectives and values that underpin existing approach to trade, our formal approach to trade, are somehow out of sync with those we have as communities and people.
Alternative forms of trade and alternatives to trade in order to achieve these values and objectives. Ani Mikaere very clearly described the process from kaupapa to tikanga, that the values and objectives may be the kaupapa, there are different trade forms and alternatives to trade in order to achieve those values. For instance, Bernard Hickey talked about risks of these large digital corporates and alternatives to even utilising that form of gaining access to services we want. He said to ban them; you might have a different view on that. Tanya Pouwhare talked about the procurement issues, as did Annie Newman with the living wage campaign. These are alternatives to trade. At the moment we trade to get the things we want. People were suggesting alternative ways of getting what we want without engaging in international trade by using the resources within our local communities and national society. But also alternative forms of trade, indigenous trade for instance and direct relations between indigenous peoples.
The Agreements and treaties themselves, the rules that apply to the international trading system and investment regime, which has perhaps been the dominant theme of the discussion in the country over many years but without focusing on our own values and objectives and the alternative forms of trade and alternatives to trade. There were many contributions to that discussion yesterday. There were clearly different kinds of agreements and in the agreements we have that express, for example, indigenous rights. There were issues around the use of investor-state dispute settlement, ISDS, as a key aspect of investment agreements. There were issues relating to government procurement, which is a feature of many agreements and limits on our central and local governments’ ability to procure. There were issues around labour, environment, gender, there will be around public health, and how those are reflected in the current agreements. I would note with all of them, there are whole other international legal frameworks which become subservient to the economic agreements. One of the alternatives that people have been raising in those discussions is, instead of trying to integrate those into trade and investment agreements, to instead strengthen the international support systems for labour rights, environmental survival, gender equality, and public health.