Unhappy With Even Minimal Scrutiny, US Removes Last Pretense Of TPP Transparency
from the running-scared dept
One of the central problems of ACTA has been its lack of transparency. TPP has also been negotiated behind closed doors, but unlike ACTA has permitted at least one small opportunity for public groups to engage with the negotiators through the use of stakeholder forums, where organizations and even individuals were permitted to give short presentations about aspects of TPP. This has allowed points of view other than those of industry lobbyists to be heard by negotiators.
But it seems that even that tiny shaft of sunlight being shone upon the measures believed to be in TPP was too bright for the US, which is hosting the next round of the negotiations in Dallas, from May 8 to 18:
“As anticipated, now that the US has taken control of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations it has removed the only pretense of transparency — the day-long ‘stakeholder’ programme where critics can present information and analysis directly to negotiators”, says Professor Jane Kelsey, from the Law School at the University of Auckland.
The excellent site TPP Watch explains why even a few hours of transparency was so threatening:
The stakeholder presentations have offered detailed expert analyses of the legal issues and implications of TPPA proposals that many countries’ negotiators do not have time, resources or knowledge to develop themselves.
They also provide important support for the positions that countries are taking in the negotiations, especially against the very aggressive demands from the US.
Even though it is voluntary for the negotiators to attend, they often ask for follow-up discussions on the issues and how they might protect their interests — without, of course, the advisers having access to the draft text.
In theory, there are other ways for critics of TPP to gain access to the negotiators. For example, civil society groups might hold an open meeting about TPP in the hotel where the negotiations were being held — except that last time they tried to do that, their booking was cancelled at the behest of the USTR.
That action, taken with the latest move, shows that the US will do everything in its power to stop any kind of independent discussion of TPP taking place that might bring inconvenient issues about the treaty to the attention of negotiators from other countries. The only consolation is that this kind of bullying proves just how frightened the US is that open, transparent discussions of TPP could cause the whole thing to unravel — and provides an additional incentive to fight for even more transparency than those stakeholder forums provided until now.