Negotiations For Wide-Ranging International Trade Treaty Continue In Secret

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Earlier this month, negotiators from the United States and eight other Pacific Rim nations concluded the latest round of negotiations on an ambitious secret trade agreement. The next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations is scheduled for Sept. 6-15 in Leesburg, Va.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative will host an event next month to allow stakeholders to speak directly with negotiators to raise questions and share their views. Some in Congress, such as Oregon Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden, have complained that U.S. corporations and trade groups are getting more access to the treaty negotiations than lawmakers who are supposed to oversee them. Input of any kind from members of the public is unasked for and seemingly unwelcome.

The treaty, which has largely remained secret throughout the two-and-a-half year negotiating process, promises to sharply increase trade. However, portions of the draft document that have been leaked suggest that it would affect a wide range of areas including competition, customs, e-commerce, intellectual property, investment, industrial relations, as well as trade.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has expressed concerns that a copyright proposal that could find its way into the final treaty would “restrict fair use and other copyright exceptions and limitations crucial for the progress and access of culture, science, education, and innovation.”

The Sierra Club’s San Diego Chapter warned that the new treaty might enable corporations to skirt local environmental laws. It cited examples of companies that won monetary judgements from Mexico and Canada from an investor-tribunal under the North American Free Trade Agreement when they challenged environmental rulings by those nations.

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a fair trade group that has leaked documents on its website, went further. “This isn’t just a bad trade agreement,” she said. “This is a ‘one-percenter’ power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights.”

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