7 Dec 2010

Unions call for trade deal agreements to be revealed

11:15 pm on 7 December 2010

Unions and some business owners are calling for the negotiations over a Pacific-wide free trade agreement to be more open.

The latest round of the nine-country TransPacific Partnership (TPP) talks are being held behind closed doors in Auckland this week.

The trade agreement could potentially cover everything from better access for Fonterra to American markets, to New Zealand's foreign investment rules, to labelling for genetically modified food.

But with nearly a year of the talks behind them, and a completion of the deal possibly less than a year away, negotiators are refusing to say what has been agreed so far.

That troubles Daniel Spector of IT firm Catalyst, which employs 120 workers in Wellington. Mr Spector says he's worried the TPP could shut his firm out of Government contracts in favour of foreign firms

The Council of Trade Unions says opening the agreement up to public scrutiny only after a deal is done would be a waste of time.

But a former trade negotiator, the NZ-US Council's Stephen Jacobi, says releasing details of the negotiations now could jeopardise their success.