Maine Demands That The US Be More Open And Transparent In TPP & Other International Trade Negotiations

from the good-for-them dept

As the administration continues to be ridiculously secretive about negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, it seems that even various state governments are growing concerned about the process. The Maine state legislature issued a joint resolution demanding that the administration be much more open in how it negotiates international trade agreements. The resolution states that it strongly supports good international agreements, but that they need to be open and transparent. It notes that the lack of transparency has meant that trade negotiations have come to agreements against states' own interests and that the negotiators do not consult the states, despite the massive impact these agreements have on state economies. Then it specifically calls out the TPP, and says that the administration must improve the process. Here's just a few of the lines from the resolution, though you can read the whole thing at the link above.
WHEREAS, existing trade agreements have effects that extend significantly beyond the bounds of traditional trade matters, such as tariffs and quotas, and can undermine Maine's regulatory authority and constitutionally guaranteed authority to protect the public health, safety and welfare; and

WHEREAS, a succession of federal trade negotiators from both political parties over the years has failed to operate in a transparent manner and failed to meaningfully consult with states on the far-reaching impact of trade agreements on state and local laws, even when binding the State of Maine to the terms of these agreements; and

WHEREAS, the negative effect of existing trade agreements on Maine's regulatory authority and constitutionally guaranteed authority to protect the public health, safety and welfare has occurred in part because United States trade policy has been formulated and implemented in a process that lacks transparency, fails to properly recognize the principles of state sovereignty and lacks any meaningful opportunity for congressional review and acceptance; and

WHEREAS, the United States Trade Representative is currently negotiating the terms of a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which will have a significant effect upon the citizens and commerce of the State of Maine; and

WHEREAS, there is a current opportunity for improving the process by which significant foreign trade policy agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement are negotiated; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED: That We, your Memorialists, respectfully urge and request the President of the United States and the Congress of the United States to improve the process by which United States trade agreements are developed and implemented in order to encourage meaningful transparency and appropriately acknowledge the vital role of state sovereignty and afford more meaningful opportunity for congressional review and acceptance
When even the state governments are complaining about the lack of transparency in trade negotiations that impact them, can the USTR really continue to pretend that there are no problems with the way it goes about these negotiations?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2012 @ 6:39pm

    But this transparency is unprecedented!

    You actually know stuff is going on!

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2012 @ 7:16pm

    Meanwhile Russians keep pirating the US intellectual property making Back to The Future Quadcopters.

    Does anybody respect intellectual property anymore?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2012 @ 7:27pm

    Maine seems to have overlooked two critical points:

    Article 1, Sections 8 and 10, and Article 2 of the US Constitution, and

    That its interests are represented at the federal level by its duly elected Senators and Representatives.

    Except for these oversights, the resolution reads nice.

    BTW, it does not "demand". "Respectfully urge and request" is the language actually used. This is known in many circles as an embodiment of good manners.

     

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  4.  
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    Samuel Abram (profile), Mar 16th, 2012 @ 7:33pm

    Re:

    Maine seems to have overlooked two critical points:

    Article 1, Sections 8 and 10, and Article 2 of the US Constitution, and

    That its interests are represented at the federal level by its duly elected Senators and Representatives.


    Which is exactly why Ron Wyden wants the Senate to do some advisin' and maybe some consentin'. Then again, since when did the US Constitution matter to this president (or the one before)?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2012 @ 7:50pm

    Government officials always demand more transparency and whatnot out of other government officials relating to branches of government that they have no control over, but then they never provide for transparency with aspects of government under their control.

    It's like politicians grandstanding about transparency when running for office, easy for Obama to demand and claim transparency before he gets elected, but once elected, he changes his tune.

     

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  6.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 16th, 2012 @ 8:26pm

    Re:

    What about the 9th and 10th Amendments?

     

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  7.  
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    nasch (profile), Mar 16th, 2012 @ 8:47pm

    Pretend

    When even the state governments are complaining about the lack of transparency in trade negotiations that impact them, can the USTR really continue to pretend that there are no problems with the way it goes about these negotiations?

    The facts haven't kept them from pretending that so far, I don't see why this development would stop it.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2012 @ 9:33pm

    Re: Re:

    Given the grant of federal power under Section 8 to Clause 1, and the express denial of state power relevant here under Section to Clause 1, the 9th and 10th Amendments do not come into play as a limitation on federal power.

    This is, of course, a very general answer, but I believe it fairly captures the intent and relationship between the original document and the later amendments.

    Your question is, however, a fair one on a topic that can easily be misunderstood.

     

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  9.  
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    Loki, Mar 16th, 2012 @ 10:01pm

    Re:

    Well, beyond the fact that most federal representatives are doing nothing to actually represent their states actual interests in most cases, you are quite correct.

    As for the language used, "respectfully urge and request" is simply political jargon for demanding. It's not good manners, it's protocol. And like the letters and resolutions written to King George in the mid 1700s, this will be equally ignored.

     

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  10.  
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    John Thacker, Mar 16th, 2012 @ 10:06pm

    I followed the link, and it implies that Maine's House has adopted it (on Thursday), but their Senate has not yet done so. Do you have a link to a news story on it, I can't seem to find one.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 5:06am

    Re:

    No.

    I have no respect for the imaginary.

     

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  12.  
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    Michael, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 5:26am

    The very fact that it's being kept hidden from public scrutiny is proof positive that it's harmful to the American people. This is an absolute disgrace, an abuse of the democratic process Obama and others pretend to champion, and I will in no way regard any legislation or treaty crafted by these corporate elitists as being legitimate.

     

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  13.  
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    Spaceboy (profile), Mar 17th, 2012 @ 5:31am

    Re: Re:

    I am still proud to live in Maine!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 7:35am

    Re:

    IOW, the USTR has steadfastly refused to disclose anything concerning negotiations with either branch of Congress.

    Yours is political ignorance taken to new heights.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The meaningless resolution aside, Maine is still one of the nices places to live in the US. Growing up I lived in Brunswick.

     

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  16.  
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    Michael, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re:

    So what are you saying? That any broadworded piece of tripe written by big industries ought be kept secret from the public it means to affect? Not a chance.

     

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  17.  
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    Pixelation, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 9:23am

    Response

    I wrote my Congresscritter pointing out that I take issue with the secrecy of the TPP negotiations amongst other things. Here's the response...

    "Dear xxxxxxx :



    Thank you for writing to express your views on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). I appreciated learning your views on this matter, and welcome the opportunity to respond.



    I understand your serious concerns about free trade policies and their effect on American workers. While the opening of markets and removal of trade barriers have offered significant benefits to American consumers and businesses, such as access to less expensive goods and new export markets, they have also contributed to shifts in U.S. manufacturing, resulting in lost jobs when companies relocate overseas.



    As you may know, on November 14, 2009, President Obama announced that the United States would begin negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership with an initial group of seven countries: Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Australia, Peru, and Vietnam. Specifically, the goal is to craft a comprehensive agreement to lower tariff barriers and expand trade. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Administration hopes the agreement will promote new technologies and emerging economic sectors, create new opportunities for small and medium-sized U.S. businesses in the Asia-Pacific region, and encourage investment and production in our country.



    In the United States Senate, I carefully review each and every trade agreement that comes before me, and I have been working to ensure that the TPP negotiations are conducted with the best interests of American workers and businesses in mind. Specifically, on March 11, 2010, I joined 29 of my Senate colleagues in writing to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk expressing concern about the potential impact of this agreement on dairy farmers and processors in the United States if the U.S.-New Zealand dairy trade is not addressed properly. Be assured that I continue to monitor negotiations on this topic closely, and will keep your thoughts in mind should an agreement come before the Senate.



    Again, thank you for writing. I hope that you will continue to write on matters of importance to you. Should you have any further comments or questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.


    Sincerely yours,

    Dianne Feinstein
    United States Senator"

    Glad she's going to get to see it. Too bad the public likely won't see it until it's too late.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re: Re:

    They are not kept secret from the public since, after all, the public has its elected representatives in Congress. As difficult as it seems for some to believe, the executive and legislative branches actually do talk continuously.

     

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  19.  
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    Pixelation, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "They are not kept secret from the public"

    Yes, they are.

    If our elected representatives are not telling us (the Public) the bulk of what is being deliberated, it's secret. Yes, we know they are in negotiations but the content is kept secret. It's great that the legislative and executive branches are colluding, I mean chatting. Once again, if these negotiations/ agreements are good for the American Public, they would not need to be kept secret. Please forgive me if I don't fully trust my elected officials to have my best interest in mind.

     

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  20.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 17th, 2012 @ 11:22am

    Re: Response

    But that's transparency, don't you know. Show the text to a select number of congress critters, swear them to secrecy and then trumpet about how transparent you've been.

    Change congress critter for member of parliament and that just about covers all the rest of "free" world. In that sense it's just the title changed, the same opacity and the same insistence that the representatives keep their yaps shut about what they just saw other than the pre-cooked PR lines.

    Now THAT'S transparency in trade negotiations, right?

    What else could you possibly want? /sarcasm off

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re:

    Or the next one...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    TDR, Mar 17th, 2012 @ 7:52pm

    Ah, Maine, the state of Stephen King. I bet he could write a an appropriately horrific ending for our favorite MAFIAA nitwits and their politician pals. In the meantime, perhaps Maine should follow the lead of Vermont and other states and start seriously considering the big "S" - Secession. It's about time for the states to reassert their rights.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2012 @ 5:16am

    The higher up you go the more corrupt it gets lol... but in all seriousness something that will affect so many should be 100% transparent. We are not simply talking about us here in the USA but the better part of the free world will be touched by this.

    I'm all for people getting paid for their ideas if it's good at least. I'm also for getting refunded for trash however we don't have that luxury for media items or prepaid cell phones lol.. It took me 6 months to get a refund from sprint for a phone that received 0 signal in my area.

    I'm still waiting on my refund for watching the movie core in theaters. I think it's been almost 10 years now and I've not received one cent back. I only seen about 1/3 of it before I left more pissed off then a bulldog shitting brass tacks..

    The price these people are asking us to pay to protect the very small percent of elites is absurd. Freedom & privacy vs media well I pick my freedom and privacy. That's all we need is ISP's filtering every single thing everyone does to make sure it's not illegal. There will be a lot of people that will prove just how bad of a idea that is. A lot of people will have to suffer a shitload of personal data lost for it to be proved but it will happen.

    Even then the players that do like to upload data will just protect it better.

    I have a great idea how to stop it 100% we can let our government install cameras in our houses everywhere. Then they can hire a few million people to watch us with a good percent of them that are probably pedophiles. However "the ends justify the means" Thank god I don't have kids right lol..

    I was debating the point of loaning vs file sharing with some kid that thinks it's very different. Then the subject of streaming came up where it's almost identical to the concept of loaning since you're not downloading it you're just using it temporally. I decided not to waste my time on schooling one person that's so bullheaded lol.

    Lately I've been thinking that even posting on sites like this is probably a waste of time. Since all the people that want these absurd laws to pass probably come here to laugh about how their fucking us up the ass with no lube. It would not surprise me one bit.

    Anyways props to Maine for fighting back I'm sure we will see NH fighting back soon enough since they're very big on freedom with their open carry laws and they love to record police with a live upload. I think that's perfect since there is no way for them to delete it lmao.

     

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  24.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Mar 18th, 2012 @ 8:17am

    Response of US government to Maine - "Pish-tush!"

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Re:

    No, that's now what he's saying 'IOW.' Public scrutiny and scrutiny by elected representatives are no way the same thing.

    Your is hubris taken to new heights, as if elected representatives will behave in the best interests of their constituents when said constituents aren't allowed the information necessary to hold them accountable over it.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2012 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    What he's saying is that congresspersons seeing the agreement is the same thing as making it available to the public and yes, it's a pretty asinine position to take.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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