Say That Again

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
acta, fta, petition, tpp, transparency, ustr



Petition With 90,000 Signatures Of People Worried About TPP Hand Delivered To USTR Negotiators

from the will-it-matter dept

USTR negotiators have basically acted as if they represent the interests of big businesses in their negotiations on various trade proposals. That's why we get things like ACTA, TPP and various "free trade agreements" (FTAs) that all seem to focus on carving out protections for specific special interests who just happen to sit on the USTR's "advisory committees." What they often forget is that they're supposed to be representing the public. But, at times, they're so disconnected from the public that what's best for the actual country rarely seems to enter into the thought process. Of course, with the uprising against ACTA, perhaps some people at the USTR are beginning to wake up to the fact that their roles aren't just about making special interests happy. The recent admission that limitations and exceptions are important in copyright is a sign that this kind of thinking may be filtering through.

Last week, a group of public interests organizations also hand delivered an online petition that was signed by over 90,000 people raising concerns about TPP. I generally don't think much of online petitions like this, but in this situation, where's it's incredibly important for the USTR to recognize that the public and internet users are watching -- and are concerned -- something like this seems like it could be helpful in at least making the USTR negotiators recognize that the public matters.

Of course, for them to prove that they really understand that, they'd need to start being a hell of a lot more transparent, such as by releasing the US recommendations that are being negotiated. Until that happens, it's difficult to trust the USTR to really be looking out for the public's best interests.

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  1. icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), 9 Jul 2012 @ 11:29am

    The key question is will this wake up the USTR to the extent that they take the US Congress, other legislatures like the Australian Parliament AND the public have a right to know what's going on. And then there's the joke that has Canada and Mexico as 5th rate participants in the TPP negotiations.

    What's so amusing to me about this is that I'll wager that the major non-participant, China, has cleaved the veil of "transparency" around TPP and knows every word, sentence, dot, comment and observation and who said or proposed it all.

    Not that I'm saying this as if China is doing something nasty here. If an agreement of this scope were being negotiated with the United States on the sideline I'd be sure they'd be doing exactly what China is doing now.

    The other reason for saying this is that between the petition and China's "national interest" is to let the USTR know that they're being watched. Closely. Being so opaque about this while claiming transparency just raises suspicions and cynicism about what's going on behind the veil.

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