TPP Agreement: Obama Wants Something The Public 'Can Look At' In November
from the but-what? dept
Transparency -- or lack of it -- has emerged as a major issue for all the big trade agreements that are currently being negotiated: TAFTA/TTIP, TISA, CETA and TPP. That makes the following story from Reuters, about a move to open up TPP slightly, intriguing:
Pacific trading partners hope to have a free trade agreement ready to present to the public and stakeholders in November, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday.
More specifically, he is quoted as saying:
"Our hope is by the time we see each other again in November, when I travel to Asia, we should have something that we have consulted with Congress about, that the public can take a look at, and we can make a forceful argument to go ahead and close the deal," he told reporters after the meeting.
As the Reuters article notes, that comes as something of a surprise since the talks seemed to have ground to a halt recently, despite original hopes that they would be finished last year. Indeed, some participants remain pessimistic:
Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who visited the United States last week, was reported as saying on June 18 there was no chance of a deal this year, though he hoped it could be concluded in the first half of 2015.
That uncertainty raises the question: what exactly does the President's statement mean? Is it just an attempt to give some momentum to the talks by setting a new deadline? Will there really be a document released in November? And even if there is something that the public "can take a look at" then, what exactly will that be? The full text of the agreement? That seems unlikely; what President Obama has in mind is probably some sanitized summary.
Still, the very fact that he has made this comment, however vague and unsatisfactory it might be, suggests that the increasingly-widespread calls for transparency are having some effect. We obviously need to keep it up.