New USTR Nominated; Will He Commit To Transparency?

from the don't-bet-on-it dept

President Obama has nominated Michael Froman to be the new USTR, to take over for Ron Kirk who stepped down recently. Most of the stories on Froman note that he's well known in this space and has been a key player in a number of trade agreements -- including with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. That should worry us all, because those three awful trade agreements more or less set the tone for ACTA and TPP with their incredible levels of secrecy, combined with ridiculous and extreme intellectual property provisions.

People have noted that South Korea's free trade agreement was "the model" for ACTA, which included exceptionally ridiculous copyright rules. In fact, most recently, South Korea is starting to push back and reconsider those rules that were pushed on it by the US. The agreement in Panama led to that country passing what some referred to as the worst copyright law in history. And, as for Colombia, you may remember that it rushed through its own dreadful version of SOPA in a mad dash to get into "compliance" with that free trade agreement a week before Obama was set to visit.

So all three of those "historic" trade agreements included really nasty copyright provisions. Is this really the guy we want leading the USTR?

The folks over at the EFF are asking Froman to agree to end the policy of secrecy with negotiations on free trade agreements. If Froman gets the job, he'll be in charge of both the TPP and TAFTA. He should first agree that intellectual property has no place in free trade agreements, drop those sections from the two agreements while also agreeing that the USTR will be transparent in what it's asking for on our behalf. That means actually telling the public what it is proposing, rather than keeping it a secret.

The EFF has also set up a petition demanding that the new USTR end backroom negotiations and promise to stop legacy corporate interests from sneaking in ways to regulate the internet through these secret trade negotiations.

Earlier this year, we noted that it was trade agreements like the one with South Korea that now effectively prevent Congress from allowing you to unlock your phone. Froman has significant responsibility for that whole mess. If he wants to show that he's not just pushing an agenda to protect a few companies who don't want to adapt to a changing marketplace, he should admit that those agreements were a mistake, and promise that future trade agreements will be open and transparent, and won't include intellectual property provisions.

Filed Under: michael froman, ron kirk, transparency, ustr

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  1. identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 3 May 2013 @ 2:12pm

    BET EVERY CENT AGAINST, Mike. He's from Citigroup,

    and therefore a rabid corporatist.

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