The European Union has taken a huge leap towards transparency in releasing the text of a trade deal affecting member nations. Now, it's time for Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiators to do the same and stop the secrecy.
Article by Maira Sutton for the EFF
EFF joins 47 other civil society groups and experts from around the world to call on trade ministers of countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to publish the current draft of the agreement, as well as all nations' negotiating positions. The TPP has been negotiated in secret for the last five years. But we know from several leaks of its Intellectual Property chapter that it contains various provisions that pose wide-ranging threats to users' rights to free speech and privacy online.
This letter follows the European Commission's recent announcement to make EU-US trade negotiations over the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) more transparent—committing themselves to release the EU's negotiating texts and to give access to all TTIP texts to members of the European Parliament. The EU Commission's decision came amidst growing pressure from the public over the secrecy of its trade talks with the US. EU officials have become particularly cautious about facing popular resistance to TTIP, following massive protests across the region against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) two years ago. These public demonstrations led to the agreement's eventual defeat when the European Parliament rejected its ratification.
We have brought together this international public-interest coalition to urge TPP trade ministers to follow Europe's example, and embark on a new era of transparency and openness in trade negotiations. We present this letter as the US Trade Representative seeks to conclude the Pacific trade deal in the coming months, and as President Obama works with some Congressional leaders to pass a fast track trade bill that would hand Congress' constitutionally-mandated authority over trade policy to the Executive branch. Under such a law, Congress members would have extremely limited powers to debate or amend the terms of this secretive international deal. As TPP seems to arrive at its final stage, this is a prime moment for trade ministers to stop the secrecy and re-commit themselves to democratic principles of transparency and public participation in rule making.
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