Share/E-mail This Story

Email This



How Not To Build A 21st Century Trade Agreement: In Secret

from the government-failures dept

The USTR continues to pitch the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement as a "21st Century" trade agreement. However, as the folks at EFF point out, the defining aspect of the 21st century is the fact that the internet has enabled unrivaled transparency. A trade agreement created in secret -- though with special access for special interests -- is not a 21st-century agreement at all. It's the opposite. It's a last-century viewpoint on how the world works.
We're still not convinced it’s an agreement adequate for 21st century society--especially in an environment where the public, Congress, and civil rights organizations are denied access to the treaty’s official text, while corporate representatives have full access to it. In a world where you can access the complete state code of Utah in Github to engage citizens in legislative drafting, secrecy and backroom deals are not exactly a 21st century way to build the 21st century society.
It's still never been adequately explained why the USTR feels the need for such secrecy and backroom deals. At best, the answer has been "this is how we always negotiate trade agreements." That's not an answer, that's an excuse. If the USTR is serious about building a trade agreement for the 21st century, it would recognize that it needs to be open and transparent.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    arcan, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:01am

    hey i have been making that statement for years. both about acta and tpp. i should sue the eff for stealing that idea...

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:11am

    That's not an excuse, that just the process.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:25am

    Money = power in writing TPP, not actual expertise or real world experience or being hired/elected to represent the people.

    But as ACTA showed, money can buy a treaty written however you want, but it can't buy the votes to ratify it.

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    Seegras (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:54am

    Of course its utter bogus. But they can't very well confess that they try to keep the public out of it because the USTR lets write its "trade agreements" by rent-seeking corporations.

     

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

  5.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 8:05am

    Perhaps they want a 21st Century agreement but they also want to cling to 19th Century process to do it.

    Of course everyone in every country affected by TPP will fall into line to support it, just like they did ACTA. See? It still works!

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 8:14am

    All trade agreements must be negotiated in front of Mike Masnick.


    It's the law.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 8:26am

    yes, its a true falacy of todays people, I "have" to know everything that goes on and approve/disapprove of it, quite sad, its how nothing gets done, when everybody wants to have a say in it, and everyone wants it there way

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    anon, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 8:39am

    LOl at anonymous coward

    It is not everyone wanting to know how a trade agreement is processed, all people want to know is how a trade agreement will affect them before it is ratified and becomes law which they have to follow.

    Maybe we should create it secret pass it in secret and ratify it in secret and then when it comes to being used in a court not be able to use it because it is a secret that not even the judge can be allowed to see.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 8:53am

    Re:

    read more about USTR here:
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2043605

    You seem to be pretty close to this rather interesting article on how USTR works.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    rubberpants, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 9:00am

    Re:

    The actions of the government are supposed to reflect the will of the people, from whom they derive their authority. In a representative democracy, it's imperative that citizens know what's being done on their behalf so they can hold their representatives accountable.

    Are you defending the selective secrecy under which "treaty" is being negotiated?

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    rubberpants, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 9:02am

    Re:

    All techdirt trolls must remain anonymous.

    It's the law.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 9:26am

    Im starting to think, that they think, that they have something up their sleeves, why else continue the same way they have been, if they have'nt.

    Either they've seen whats been happening to stuff like acta or they've put a transparancy block on themselves but in reverse, the numnuts'

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 9:42am

    Re: LOl at anonymous coward

    "how a trade agreement will affect them before it is ratified and becomes law which they have to follow."

    This is the bullshit of it all.

    That trade agreements that affect citizens as if these agreements were laws are able to get negotiated without public input, much less true representation, is just absurd. I don't get the impression that powers given to the executive branch to make trade agreements was intended to allow an alternative means of creating "laws." It seems like it was supposed to be that the president could say, "we're making a deal with the UK to send them our cotton and they send us the textiles in return," not, "we've made a deal with other countries in which all of our citizens will be bound by these restrictions to the benefit of these corporations who paid us off."

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 11:28am

    Oh, but it is 21st century

    21st century BC to be exact.

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    Brendan (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    Re:

    Then the process is wrong and must be changed. It is no longer acceptable to draft laws (the ultimate goal of these multilateral ?trade agreements") in secret.

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    TaCktiX (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re:

    bob disagrees with you.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    "its how nothing gets done"

    and if the people collectively don't want anything done then a representative government should do nothing.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re:

    and if it ain't broken then don't fix it. Why must something always be done?

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    JMT (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 2:25pm

    Re:

    It's a matter of trust, or a lack thereof. If governments had a history of implementing trade agreements that genuinely benefited the public as a whole, as opposed to a few powerful trade lobbies, then we would trust them to negotiate deals without close scrutiny. But they don't, so we don't.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:03pm

    Devil's advocate?

    Maybe playing the devil's advocate a bit here, but I have a slight quibble with declaring in no uncertain terms that X is "the defining aspect of" the Yth century after only the first 1/8 of the Yth century has thus far elapsed.

    If you'd declared that giant passenger liners on the high seas had been the defining century of the 20th century in July of 1912, for example, you'd have been wrong, and not just because the recent loss of the Titanic with half its hands would put a dent in that industry.

    There's still a lot of time left in the 21st for something analogous to the passenger jet, two World Wars, rapid advances in medicine, or something to come along and completely change the picture. In 2100 the "defining characteristic of the 21st century" might be the first Mars colony, or the quest for biological immortality, or the invention of a way to back up and restore the human mind, or AI, or World War III, or first contact with ETI, or something -- or, perhaps most likely, there may be no single thing that stands out above all the others. Was there for the 20th, when all was said and done?

     

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

  21.  
    icon
    jenningsthecat (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 9:09pm

    TPP is much more than just a trade agreement

    According to The Nation, under TPP "Countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP’s rules—in effect, a corporate coup d’état. The proposed pact would limit even how governments can spend their tax dollars."

    ( http://www.thenation.com/article/168627/nafta-steroids )

    According to Michael Geist, "the TPP would require countries (such as Canada, New Zealand, and Japan - all current or potential TPP members) that meet the international copyright term standard of life of the author plus 50 years to add an additional 20 years to the term of protection."

    ( http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/6226/125/ )

    Also, see the PDF document comparing ACTA to TPP at

    infojustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/summary-03262012.pdf

    TPP is just a massively beefed-up, more dangerous, more restrictive, more insidious version of ACTA - the benign-sounding name is just a ploy to keep prying eyes looking in other directions while corporations again attempt to bypass those annoying citizens who actually demand a say in the laws that govern them. The public outcry against ACTA derailed its adoption by some countries - the grey eminences behind TPP don't want that to happen again.

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Jul 13th, 2012 @ 6:26am

    Re:

    doesn't stop it screwing over the rest of us though.

     

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

  23.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Jul 13th, 2012 @ 6:31am

    Re: Oh, but it is 21st century

    nah, if it was, we could get our pointy sticks and go stab 'em repeatedly for this sort of thing and it would actually solve the problem. (pointy sticks includes anything up to and including proper spears and arrows, mind.)

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Jul 13th, 2012 @ 6:32am

    Re: Devil's advocate?

    'the defining distinctive aspect of the 21st century so far that was not also present in the 20th' is a bit of a mouthful though.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Innenausbau Hamburg, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 8:01am

    Secret

    Nothing more nothing less.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This