Rep. Lofgren Gives USTR A Simple 3-Point Plan For Real TPP Transparency
from the let's-try-that-out dept
Either way, Rep. Zoe Lofgren is unimpressed. She's now sent Kirk a letter, responding to Kirk's request for "suggestions" on how to improve transparency with some rather simple and straightforward ideas (pdf and embedded below), meaning that it's unlikely the USTR will pay much attention to them. You can read the full version at that link, but here's my summarized version, with commentary:
- USTR should make the US positions (not those of other countries) open to the public. She doesn't even say the full text needs to be open, but merely summaries of the US's position. It's hard to see any reasonable argument against this. Since the USTR is negotiating on behalf of the American public (in theory, though the reality often seems so different), it seems ridiculous that the USTR would ever not put out at least summaries of its positions on what it's negotiating. Contrary to Kirk's claims, this does not weaken the US's negotiating ability at all. Quite the opposite, it strengthens it by making it subject to public scrutiny and input, while also highlighting to the world our resolve in coming up with a proposal that the public will accept.
- Any IP section within TPP must have strong support for flexible "limitations and exceptions" for things like fair use and the public domain. While the USTR has shown a willingness to include some text on limitations and exceptions, the most recent leak raises questions since it appears to be rather inflexible and goes much further than is reasonable.
- USTR should create more representative "trade advisory committees," which it consults on these issues. As it stands, the ITACs (International Trade Advisory Committee) is heavily, heavily biased in favor of older legacy industries, rather than innovators or the public. Lofgren reasonably suggests that a lot more thought and effort should go into fixing how unbalanced these committees are, since they have tremendous influence over the text.