Desperate To Sew Up TPP Negotiations At Any Cost, Politicians Agree All Future Meetings Will Be Completely Secret

from the slap-in-the-public's-face dept

We’ve been reporting for several years about the extraordinary levels of secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, where little information was released about what was going on, and there were few opportunities for representatives of civic and other groups to meet with negotiators to present their point of view. More recently, there have been some indications that this lack of transparency is fuelling increasing discontent among some of the participating nations.

In order to get the trade deal sewn up by the end of this year, and before resistance spreads further, the negotiators have decided to hold ‘inter-sessional’ meetings for the remaining unresolved areas. But as this article from Scoop explains, these won’t be like routine TPP meetings, with their routinely unhelpful levels of opacity:

Detective work indicates that informal ‘inter-sessional’ meetings on six chapters are scheduled within the next four weeks — all in North America.

‘ “Inter-sessional” is a misnomer’, says Professor Kelsey, ‘because they are not planning any more formal sessions. There will be no access for the media or stakeholders to these smaller meetings.’

‘Past inter-sessionals have been shrouded in secrecy to ensure we can’t find out what’s happening and we don’t have access to those negotiators who see value in talking with us.’

‘The last three years of the TPPA have been widely condemned for their lack of transparency. The process is now going further underground’.

That is, rather than opening up TPP in response to widening criticisms, its negotiators will now be meeting in complete secret, presumably until they emerge with some kind of a deal, however bad. Since no information will be released about those gatherings behind closed doors, and there will be no opportunities to convey concerns to the participants, the public in whose name all these talks are taking place will have no way of knowing what is going on or of offering its views. It’s the ultimate in arrogant, “we know best” negotiations where citizens are expected to accept what is given, no discussion allowed.

The last time this approach was used on this scale was for ACTA, which was ultimately rejected, largely because the European public took to the streets to express its outrage at the contempt being shown towards it by the negotiators. Interestingly, in Colombia people are already taking to the streets to protest against the effects of free trade agreements with the US, Europe and Canada, at least in part. Do the governments participating in the now-secret TPP negotiations really want to risk the same happening in their own countries?

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Comments on “Desperate To Sew Up TPP Negotiations At Any Cost, Politicians Agree All Future Meetings Will Be Completely Secret”

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36 Comments
Vincent Giannell (profile) says:

“Do the governments participating in the now-secret TPP negotiations really want to risk the same happening in their own countries?”

They probably would because they’re sick and tired of people protesting against the TPP and they might try to outlaw protesting against trade agreements. They’ll do anything to get what they want even if it means having protestors arrested or killed to do it too.

Anonymous Coward says:

In the spirit of closed negotiations

The citizens of said countries should really plan their protests in secret and execute the protest in a manner not in keeping with the wishes of the government. These protests should be strictly aggressive, support only the views of the populace and never back down unless they get their own way.

The citizens should ensure that secret secure communications are always used, tracing of said protestations is not possible and anyone found to be leaking information about such organized protests is dealt with harshly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Australia

Could always vote for one of the other parties? However much good that would or wouldn’t do.

Here in NZ we’d pretty much be shot of national by now if the media didn’t keep spinning it as a US style two party presidential race and constantly spamming polls showing national winning by itself. (Something like 1/3rd of voters didn’t bother as a result, and they Still didn’t manage it.)

Media, it should be noted, which is roughly 50/50 NZ government owned and American corporate interest owned.

Alan8 says:

Re: Australia

“…as far as I know, BOTH parties are for it!”

The Green Party runs in virtually every country on the planet, and they are solidly AGAINST the TPP. They don’t accept corporate money, and they represent CITIZENS’ interests — not corporate interests.

Your Green votes send a message to the corrupt parties that selling out their citizens to corporate interests will cost them votes.

And this message is sent even if the Greens you vote for lose.

That One Guy (profile) says:

How's that saying go again?

‘If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide’?

While a rubbish argument in most cases, I think in this case it’s pretty clear that the reason for the total silence is due to the negotiators having plenty to hide regarding what exactly they are fitting in there, in fear that if the public knew what was being negotiated ‘in their name’, they would protest loud and publicly against the terms.

Anonymous Coward says:

ACTA fell primarily because the commission was goating the parliament with obscure and never before used procedures. Most parties were pissed already, when the opposition towards ACTA gained steam. There were a few parties who changed or got an official opinion during the parliamentary work, which made ACTA fall.

Secrecy during negotiation is not bad if it is closed to every external influence and there will be a real work done on the legal effects of TPP. In absess of those, secrecy is a sign of complete resignation from politicians. They have no idea about how to handle the industry influence or public perception. Secrecy and fast-track procedures are signs of irresponsible politicians who lack fundamental understanding of what is going on and how to discuss it without pissing away their campaign money by offending sponsors or answering to the public/their district.

The Real Michael says:

The legacy corps disregard the will of the people, yet our government gives them enough leeway to pretty much do whatever they please, like a bunch of spoiled rotten brats. No matter how much they’ve got, it’s never enough.

They act in secrecy because their actions conflict with the interests of the greater good. They are motivated purely by greed and selfish desire. We should demand full access to whatever they’re agreeing upon in our name. They shouldn’t have the right to shut us out and then inflict their will upon us.

Anonymous Coward says:

everything about TPP is as bad as it was in ACTA, probably even worse if the truth is ever known. the most troubling piece of information from the report above though, to me is that the meetings are going to be held in the North America! the only reason for this can be so there is difficulty in voting against the proposals etc but also to ensure that the entertainment industries and Hollywood will be able to put the worst of the worst of conditions in place to ensure that the public are deemed as criminals from day one, that they can be sued at the drop of a hat, have almost no way of refuting any charges or being able to produce evidence of innocence and being kicked off the internet!! the last one is the important one because the thick fuckers in these industries still think that the less people there are on the net, the more they will go back to buying cinema tickets and dvds/blurays. every other use of the internet for people is going to be completely ignored, just as long as those industries get what they want!! instead of going down this road, they need to be forced to do what customers want and governments, instead of doing what businesses demand should be doing what the electorate says!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

and being kicked off the internet!! the last one is the important one because the thick fuckers in these industries still think that the less people there are on the net, the more they will go back to buying cinema tickets and dvds/blurays. every other use of the internet for people is going to be completely ignored, just as long as those industries get what they want!!

The government will go along with this, though. Regardless of whether people buy more DVDs/Blurays, keeping people off the net will keep them away from any news reporting worth a toss. No more reading Techdirt. No more reading any other internet news sites and finding out the truth about what the governments and corporations are up to. Just 24/7 mainstream media news that rarely reports on anything more substantial than the latest celebrity disgrace and never reports on anything without self-censorship and complete adherence to the pre-approved Party line.

PopeRatzo (profile) says:

Too late for all that

It’s too late to deal with the TPP through regular political means. As we’ve learned from ACTA, only mass protests and civil disobedience makes any difference.

There’s only two ways this can go: badly for them or badly for us. The economic elite have shown that their only interest is in making sure people who don’t have wealth never get any.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lets face it, the very existence of patents is just as much a sham as the existence of copy’right’ law. These laws are a complete sham and shouldn’t even exist and their alleged justification is as out of touch with reality as the current state of these laws and the secrecy behind them. Those attempting to justify these laws are the same people responsible for their current state and the secrecy revolving around them and these people are liars. There is no justification for IP laws. Abolish them, completely.

Anonymous Coward says:

i will bet you anything you like, there will be a massive attendance to these meetings by Hollywood and the rest of the US entertainment industries. i also bet what you like that the threats will be flowing thick and fast at any country that refuses to stand up against what those industries want to do to prosecute people, to sue people, to bankrupt and to imprison people, all over the sharing of a movie or song. fucking tossers!!

Rekrul says:

Since no information will be released about those gatherings behind closed doors, and there will be no opportunities to convey concerns to the participants, the public in whose name all these talks are taking place will have no way of knowing what is going on or of offering its views.

In what world do you live? Deals like this are negotiated solely for the benefit of the corporations.

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