Amid Growing Calls To Release TPP Text, NZ Says Transparency Would 'Destroy' Agreement, While USTR Won't Even Talk If Journalists Are Present

from the really-not-getting-it dept

As happened with ACTA, the lack of transparency in the TPP negotiations is emerging as one of the key issues there. Here's a very interesting initiative by politicians from many of the TPP countries:

Senior legislators from Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand and Peru today issued a joint letter seeking the release of the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) before it is signed, to enable detailed scrutiny and public debate. The signatories include political party leaders and legislators who currently or previously held senior political office in their national governments.
On the www.tppmpsfortransparency.org site, there's a list of the politicians who have signed up, and it's interesting to see the variation across the different countries. For example, there's just one politician each from Australia and Mexico, two from Canada, but 21 from Peru and no less than 44 from Malaysia. That gives a rough measure of where resistance to TPP is strongest -- Techdirt noted that Malaysia's support for TPP was wavering as far back as 2012.

Despite these widespread concerns about the lack of transparency, the USTR shows no signs of addressing them. Here's what happened recently in the US:

Vermont lawmakers are refusing to meet a demand from the office of the U.S. trade representative that they conduct secret talks over the impacts of a proposed international trade agreement.

An ad hoc group of House members was to have a telephone meeting with officials in the USTR on Thursday about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. But state Rep. Mike Yantachka says that office stated in an email the media should be barred from attending.
Meanwhile, in New Zealand, politicians are resorting to desperate justifications of secrecy. Here's what Tim Groser, the country's trade minister, had to say on the subject:
the idea that doing all this in the glare of publicity would help the process is naïve, except that my view is that ... actually these people (TPP opponents) are smart," said Groser. "They want this to be done in the full glare of transparency to increase the controversy to the point where it's unmanageable and will destroy the agreement.
The key concern should not be about helping the process at all costs, but making sure that it is in the interests of the public -- here, the New Zealand public. Keeping it secret might well make it easier to sell them down the river, but that's hardly a benefit. And if the "full glare of transparency" does increase the controversy, that suggests there isn't much support for the negotiations in the first place.

In other words, Groser's comments simply confirm what everyone fears: secrecy is being used to push through a bad deal that would never be accepted if negotiated out in the open as happens routinely for other, more democratic discussions.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 9:39pm

    It may sound crazy, but hear me out...

    If the public knowing the details of a trade agreement, an agreement supposedly being worked on for the benefit of the public, would be enough to cause a big enough backlash from the public to scuttle the 'agreement'... then maybe, just possibly, it's because the 'agreement' is not in fact in the best interests of the public.

    Crazy idea, I know.

     

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  2.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 10:58pm

    Re: It may sound crazy, but hear me out...

    this isn't meant to do anything for the public but to make sure that they must abide by the whims of the corporations that the USTR answers to.

    If this was actually meant for the public, we could see it and have input.

    Perhaps it is time to halt funding USTR until such time as they decide to include the public. They will of course never happen, we can screw up the entire nation because one small minded dolt wants to win points against a law he dislikes but to halt the wholesale screwing over of the people he is supposed to represent? Hell no.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 11:17pm

    Of course it would destroy the agreement - it's nothing more than sanctioned terrorism in the nation of ideas! Where 'ownership' is more important than society! Where 'profits' are more important than culture! Where sanity has been booted out fot he asylum for being too competent!

     

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  4.  
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    Androgynous Cowherd, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 11:48pm

    Glare of publicity

    The very fact that they expect transparency would create a glare of publicity is a red flag. One gets a glare of publicity when one is mired in a scandal. A celebrity caught cheating on his wife, say, or a mayor mired in substantiated allegations of corruption.

    They know this turd stinks and that the public would, if they got one whiff of it, demand their representatives reject it.

     

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  5.  
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    Ole Juul (profile), Feb 13th, 2014 @ 11:58pm

    What are they afraid of

    if they have nothing to hide?
    (touché)

     

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  6.  
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    JC Carter, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 12:33am

    What an absolute cunt

    and deserves to be kicked outta this country, along with the entire National party caucus. Pricks.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 12:47am

    Re: It may sound crazy, but hear me out...

    Not so crrrrazie......pretty much bang on

    I dont think they appreciate how this kind of thing is pissing folks off, this is something FREEFOLKS dont expect from a freeworld, you can read between the lines on what that implies

    i mean passing a global trade agreement that could affect the lives if folks globally, and the only time we are allowed to even know whats in it, is when its passed, and it starts affecting us.........wanna know why they think they can do this, because for the last decade or so, they've been doing this, if not indeed much longer, but most assuredly it is getting worse..........there is no representation, there is only authoratizism.......and FUCK YES i pray to see them get their karma

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 12:49am

    Re: What an absolute cunt

    MINIMUM

     

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  9.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 1:12am

    If it was about some military agreement or something that really required secrecy then it would be understandable. And even if there are parts concerning such topics they can be "classified" separately from the rest. There's zero reasons to keep the thing from the public excluding, well, that it's actually set to screw the public if approved.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Plague, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 1:34am

    Science has known for some time now that harmful bacteria cannot survive when brought out into bright sunlight!

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 3:07am

    Re: What an absolute cunt

    I'd go further - hang them for treason.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 3:28am

    Re: Re: It may sound crazy, but hear me out...

    Well, with TTIP the European Commission has been fair enough to open up a single chapter to some public scrutiny after its real conclusion despite having USTR as their partner in crime. While it is only a tiny improvement, it is important to recognize how slippery the slide of public scrutiny is. When they allow this, they will recieve immense pressure to allow more. I think Grosers statement has been the common fear all along.

    At least there is a movement, not on the severely tainted TPP, but on the subject of transparency. USTR cannot keep things like ACTA and TPP floating without fast-track. Grow or pay, seems like the situation for USTR. Their model of privileged transparency is dead. Grow or pay!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 3:45am

    the reason NZ is taking this position is because of the total disaster surrounding the Dotcom fiasco and the great big pile of shit it dropped itself into, all at the request of the USA DoJ, at the request of a whole bunch of lying fuckers in the USA entertainments industries, all at the request of the thick and 'willing to be helpful for the donations given in return' pricks in Congress and the government.
    taking the same stance as the USTR, against the people will not do the NZ government any favors at all! it is aleready seen as nothing less than the USA's bitch and following this stupid line is making things worse!
    i am trying to think what, apart from the innumerable benefits to the USA, mainly, entertainments industries, would be destroyed if the text were to be released? the back-handers perhaps? what about the people actually finding out just how they are going to be royally screwed by both their own government and that of the USA, who, incidentally, never do a damn thing unless it benefits them and US industries at the complete expense of everyone else!!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    David, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 3:47am

    Re: Re: It may sound crazy, but hear me out...

    Well, it is to the nation's benefit if nobody has any privacy left at all any more because of terrorism. For only several dozens of billions of dollars and at the cost of abandoning the protections of the Fourth Amendment, it has been verifiably possible to capture at least one person sending several thousands of dollars to an organization suspected of supporting terrorism.

    That's a thundering endorsement and justification. In a similar vein, the TPP will deliver tremendous benefits for the populace which is unable to comprehend the long-term consequences and thus is better off not knowing about them.

    TPP will provide a bulwark against terrorism, child pornography and content piracy and will keep the American way of life and Mickey Mouse alive and kicking for another fifty years at least, trying to escape.

    Was there anything I forgot?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 3:53am

    'secrecy is being used to push through a bad deal'

    bad deal for every country except the USA!

    bad deal for every industry, everywhere, except the USA (and subsidiaries)

    bad deal for every citizen in every country including the USA!

     

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  16.  
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    Niall (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 4:14am

    Re: Re: What an absolute cunt

    Oh, I'd far rather have them love in a world where their content is freely and legally available easily and for a respectable price, and they have minimum control and only decent profits...

     

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  17.  
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    Annonymous grump, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 4:59am

    TPP transparency

    So they say opening up the text will kill the TPP? Isn't that statement evidence of being transparent?

     

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  18.  
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    Pragmatic, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:47am

    Re: Re: Re: It may sound crazy, but hear me out...

    Making eye contact with Michael Froman can cure scrofula, but only if the agreement goes through without question.

     

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  19.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:47am

    Re:

    No no, make no mistake, it screws over plenty of americans too, the real 'winners' in a deal like this are the large multinational companies and corporations, and a handful of industries, pretty much everyone else, including the US as a whole, gets hosed over from 'agreements' like this.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re: It may sound crazy, but hear me out...

    But, but. We have to pass the trade agreement to find out whats in it!!

    We once let a legislator get a total free pass on this sentiment, others in government obviously noticed an the USTR believes they should be able to act the same way.

     

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  21.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:59am

    Yay, go us.

    I just remembered, I actually attended one of the talks when the TPP was in its infancy (back then I used to work at the interior ministry)... I remember it was just about some sort of corp. ID card that made entering ports easier or something.

    Now it mutated into this...

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    TDR, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 7:20am

    Dana: Fools were the minions of Groser. What's Groser?
    Venkman: Groser was very big in Corporatania.
    Dana: Well, what's he doing in my business?

     

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  23.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 8:41am

    Re:

    "bad deal for every country except the USA!"

    It's a bad deal for the USA as well. It's a good deal for multinational corporations.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 9:33am

    Re: It may sound crazy, but hear me out...

    The real crazy part is Tim Groser basically says that flat out with a straight face as if that's a argument the public should be swayed by.

     

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  25.  
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    rapnel, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 9:59am

    Well...

    Fuck the TPP!

    Next.

     

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  26.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 10:38am

    Re: Re: It may sound crazy, but hear me out...

    Perhaps it is time to halt funding USTR until such time as they decide to include the public.


    That's actually a pretty good idea. We've already got bills going around to defund one rogue Executive agency: the NSA. Why not make it two?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 11:38am

    Exactly. Tim Groser, just confirmed these "free trade" agreements are so harmful, that if exposed to public scrutiny, these economic "free trade" monstrosities would be exposed as the economic catastrophes they'll surely cause.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 11:57am

    Re: What are they afraid of

    My only regret is that I have but one vote to give for that comment.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Digger, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 2:08pm

    If transparency would kill it, then it's dead.

    Look folks, if what they are drafting is so shaky that letting the public know they are planning to shit on our rights in a major way, then it's dead already.

    How do I know this? Well, let's see.

    Historically speaking, when England set a tax on the sale of Tea in Boston, that led to what???

    Exactly.

    So, please, either go public with the TTP, or kill it now, before you have to fight the world's population when they realize you've sold them out for nothing but corporate greed.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Digger, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 2:11pm

    Re: TPP transparency

    It is exactly the opposite.
    They are so scared shitless that if the poison they are brewing is leaked out, they will be crucified by the public, and probably stoned, shot, hanged, stabbed and then executed.

    So please, no, this is not transparency at all, it is a statement that they couldn't possibly be transparent or they couldn't steal away everyone's rights so a handful of corporations can collect all the money in the world, now could they?

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Digger, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: What an absolute cunt

    I'd rather see their entire copyright portfolio mandated into public domain so they retain zero rights whatsover.

     

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  32.  
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    CK20XX (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 2:33pm

    Another victory for the people

    It's finally being whispered among the executives that the TPP is unworkable. This probably means they're going to shelve it and it will finish dying out of neglect.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/14/white-house-trade-deal_n_4790338.html

     

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  33.  
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    PopeyeLePoteaux (profile), Feb 14th, 2014 @ 5:35pm

    Re: Re: TPP transparency

    I think his point was that they are being "transparent" to some degree, they fear another ACTA if text is released to the public.

    This is an admission that the agreement is bad and will certainly cause another massive backlash like SOPA/PIPA and ACTA caused a couple years ago, they fear history will repeat unless they can keep it as secret as possible.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2014 @ 9:17pm

    I think they SHOULD do the TPP 100% in secret, with the caveat that if once it's signed the public dislikes it, it is rendered immediately null and void and everyone involved in signing it is either given 50years in prison or the death penalty....

    If TPP is so wonderful and lovely, would anyone care to bet if they'd sign on to this?

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Linda Miller, Feb 19th, 2014 @ 10:06pm

    Re: It may sound crazy, but hear me out...

    Thanks for being "That One Guy" with a great brain!

     

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


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