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Secrecy, Corporate Influence Plague Latest “Free Trade” Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership

In Los Angeles, trade negotiators are meeting to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPP), while policy groups demand that proposals be made public and be subject to public review and comment. The TPP is viewed by many, including Public Citizen who wrote on the matter, as a bellwether of how international trade will work in the upcoming decades:

“Americans deserve the right to know what U.S. negotiators have been proposing in our names,” said Tim Robertson, director of the California Fair Trade Coalition. “This is the third year of serious negotiations on a pact that’s supposed set the standard for international trade and investment across the globe. It’s outrageous that the public hasn’t been told what our representatives are negotiating for and what domestic policies they are giving away.”

While American leaders are shipping our trade future to all corners of the globe, 600 corporate lobbyists have been given “cleared advisor” status, allowing them to help write themselves into the story with no public input. The issues run the gamut from environmental protections to drug patents:

“On the table in these talks are critical issues related to the rights of workers, climate change, biodiversity and our global economy. It is crucially important that there is transparency around what is being negotiated and time for open debate and public participation,” said Ilana Solomon, trade representative with the Sierra Club.

U.S. trade negotiators would rather hide behind a veil of secrecy than allow transparency in the proceedings, PC suggests.

“If U.S. negotiators get their way, the public will be barred from reviewing any proposals until the negotiations are over, at which point it will be virtually impossible to make any substantive changes,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “That’s a bad way of making public policy, to say the least. Frankly, it reinforces the worst public perceptions about government working behind-closed-doors with moneyed interests at the expense of the general public.”

TPP talks currently include nine countries — the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei — but Mexico, Japan and Canada have asked to join as well.


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