We've noted in the past how little the USTR and other country negotiators wanted to hear
from various "civil society" or public interest groups during the various negotiating rounds. However, at least they made some
attempt to set up "stakeholder engagement" periods, in which concerned organizations could present their arguments. However, it appears that all that went completely out the window at the last negotiations in Singapore. According to a report from Deborah Gleeson, who was there, this time around, those groups were basically shunned entirely
While civil society stakeholders have always had a rather marginal role in the negotiations, at most previous rounds there have been opportunities for academics and NGO representatives to participate formally in the process.
But the meeting in Singapore had a very different feel. This time stakeholders had no role as participants and no avenues for interacting with negotiators except through personal contacts.
It was clear that ministers were getting down to business. And it was even more difficult than usual to get any information about what was happening.
Basically, the negotiators confirmed what many people knew was going on all along. Negotiators have never shown any actual interest in taking the concerns of these groups seriously. The meetings have always been for show, and now that it's time to "get down to business" apparently those groups can be ignored entirely.