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.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jun 24th, 2014 @ 10:46pm

    Look no farther than the past

    Given every piece of information voluntarily released by those involved in the 'trade' agreements to the public so far has been nothing more than empty, and sometimes completely false claims about how awesome the agreements and everything in them are, but completely bereft of any actual details, it's not hard to guess just what the 'something' for the public will, and will not, contain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Beech, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 1:22am

    Getting something for the public to look at by November shouldn't be that hard; it only takes like 3 seconds to trace your middle finger onto a blank piece of paper.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    CK20XX (profile), Jun 25th, 2014 @ 1:33am

    After all that's happened so far, I hope the White House understands that if the TPP isn't the greatest contribution to high art and the cure for at least one kind of cancer then every single United States citizen is going to saw its bollocks off.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    A nonny mouse, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 1:43am

    "forceful argument "

    "we can make a forceful argument to go ahead and close the deal"

    Telling everyone "we're signing it, and there's nothing you can do to change it" would technically be a forceful argument...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    David, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 1:58am

    "What exactly does the President's statement mean?"

    This is the president who got a Nobel Peace Prize for his forward-looking statements.

    The president's statement means that he opened and closed his mouth while producing sound.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    zip, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 2:42am

    election-year politics

    November is always a pivotal month for getting any major "dirty work" done in an even-numbered (election) year. In the case of the assault on Fallujah in 2004, the US military was ordered to postpone the invasion for months (until two days after the November election) giving the enemy side plenty of time to dig in and prepare for battle -- a battle that turned out to be the most deadly (for Americans) of the Iraq war.

    Whenever any US President wants to "wait until November" -- you just know it's something that won't be pretty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 3:35am

    Re: "What exactly does the President's statement mean?"

    I'm sorry, I didn't realise that the sound was [REDACTED].

    The Copyright for that sound was made in 2008 by the IFPI.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 3:52am

    Expect more of the same. It isn't exactly the USTR's position on his own to be non-transparent. He's been given his marching order. So the non-transparency comes from Obama, who is the boss of the USTR.

    Obama has not changed his spots. Perhaps the only reason he is willing to even give lip service to the idea of a public release is because it isn't going anywhere and no one is buying the secrecy. Too many skunks have already been tried to be hidden with SOPA and the other little nasties.

    The public of the EU has little trust now and are watching this like a hawk as another attempt to slide in those things they don't want the public to know or it would be transparent as it has been in the past before Obama.

    Worse this secrecy violates many countries laws in that they are to tell the public what they are negotiating over.

    Here's a clue for Obama. If you want trade agreements to pass, put it out in the open so the public knows. If you hide it, they have previous proof it's not something good. So no one else wants it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 4:21am

    Dear Obama Adminstration:

    Why can't we have something we could have looked at five years ago? Why can't we have somehting to look at now?

    Oh, wait, I remember. It's this transparency thing again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    SolkeshNaranek (profile), Jun 25th, 2014 @ 6:08am

    Re: "What exactly does the President's statement mean?"

    The president's statement means that he opened and closed his mouth while producing sound.

    There would likely be more truth to a statement made by the president if he did it by opening his sphincter while making a sound.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 6:43am

    Smoke and Mirrors, Again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    JWW (profile), Jun 25th, 2014 @ 6:53am

    Hmmmmmm

    To me this sound a bit like they want to sign the agreement right before we can know what's in it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jun 25th, 2014 @ 7:16am

    Re: Hmmmmmm

    'Look, see, we went through all that trouble, all that time and money to come up with the 'agreement', obviously it would be a terrible waste if we didn't get FTA for it and had to spend even more time going over each little bit of it piece by piece. What's in it? Well, you'll just have to call in and tell your representatives to vote for FTA and then the agreement to find out, doesn't that sound like fun? Of course even then telling you would spoil the surprise, so you'll just have to find out for yourself.'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    jackn, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 7:21am

    "...present to the public and stakeholders..."

    There's the problem. For some reason, the public isn't considered a stakeholder, when actually, it is the ONLY stakeholder.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 8:29am

    Reminds me a bit of Obamacare. They'll release the official text all at once, it will be ultra long and filled with legal jargon, and then they'll insist it be passed right away before anyone can dig into what's actually in it. After all, we knew SOMETHING was coming, and these negotiations have been going on for years! Any further delay would just be obstruction!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 9:06am

    I'm not buying it. I doubt the five year secrecy upon signing clause has been lifted. I refuse to support a contract that I cannot read in full.

    "Trust my summery on what is in the contract. Just sign on the dotted line please."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 9:29am

    "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."

    All this for the most transparent agreement ever! Wait why is it the public needs to see it?

    President Obama, you say transparency? You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jun 25th, 2014 @ 9:35am

    Worthless

    what President Obama has in mind is probably some sanitized summary.


    Probably. And any such summary will be worthless. Summaries are only useful if you can trust that the summary is correct, accurate, and includes all of the important points. One of the things that is clear as day is that we cannot trust that it will be any such thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Digger, Jun 25th, 2014 @ 1:38pm

    Note to Congress: Do not ratify the Corporate Treaties

    Then promptly impeach Obama if he tries to enforce it without ratification.

    All of these currently under discussion need to tank, be fully exposed and if anything, exact opposite written up and signed.

    ie - copyright needs to die an early death - restrict back to the original 15 years for published works, let's go 5 years for software.

    Patents? yeah -no more extensions on patents - period.

    Software Patents? Nope - dead, revoked, public domain.

    Make it happen Congress, or you'll be on the chopping block come November.

    End the stupidity, vote out every incumbent, first by voting for the other guy in the primaries, then by actually voting for the person who will do what their constituents (not corporations) want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Jun 26th, 2014 @ 10:30pm

    .... pick a card, any card .....

    What he would have said if it were just crony insiders and VIPs listening.

    "Our hope is by the time we see each other again in November, when I travel to Asia, we should have some apparently official-looking phony treaty documents that we can claim to have consulted with Congress about, that the public can take a look at, and then we can make a forceful argument to go ahead with the actual still-secret text of the original treaty and close the deal - including the ten year non-disclosure of the final text of the treaty - while everyone is still congratulating themselves for having forced the treaty text into the open."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Joe, Jun 27th, 2014 @ 12:31pm

    Word choices

    Obama seems to be very particular about his choice of words here...

    "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.

    The administration's *hope* is that when when talks resume, they *should* have something Congress has been *consulted* about. What is this something, as clearly it wouldn't be the actual document, could it? Why consulted, and not discussed with or debated? Does Congress have no input? And what's with the word 'about' here, as it carries a connotative sense of abstraction and distance?

    The public *can look* at...reminds me of the "look but don't touch" phrase parents tell their children. Will the administration actually listen to what the public says? Possibly, but while Congress will have already been consulted, in November the public can by that time forward take a look (tense matters). Granted, what the public gets to 'look' at will most likely be some website with a spew of propaganda of how awesome this agreement is.

    Of course, the need to plan a *forceful* argument to close the deal. Not so sure if I want to know the intent of the 'forceful' aspect to this argument.

    I'll assume that Obama is being 100% truthful in his statement, as he can do so without having to do a damn thing of what he would like the public to believe he'll do. Am I looking too much into this? Given the administration's track record of purposefully being misleading in what they say, especially on matters the public won't like....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 28th, 2014 @ 10:37am

    I don't believe it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Advertisement
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Techdirt Reading List
Advertisement
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Support Techdirt - Get Great Stuff!

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.