LORI WALLACH, via Steven Knievel [email]
Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Wallach said today: “While President Obama and Mitt Romney attack each other on China trade, both quietly support a massive Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement that would greatly expand U.S. jobs offshoring, give Chinese firms a waiver to Buy American procurement policies and further erode the U.S. manufacturing base.
“Despite the TPP’s sweeping influence on American jobs (and public health, Internet freedom, financial regulation and environmental protections), the Obama administration has refused to allow the public, or even congressional offices, to see the negotiating text. This stands in contrast to even the World Trade Organization, hardly a paragon of transparency, which now posts key texts online for public review. … In May, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, publicly leaked the intellectual property chapter of the TPP and criticized the USTR’s [United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk's] ‘secretive, closed-door negotiating process.’ In June, more than 130 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter, led by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.), that called on USTR Kirk to release the full text to members of Congress and their security-cleared staff. When Kirk failed to respond, eight leading members of the House of Representatives requested to directly observe the TPP negotiations in Leesburg.
“Meanwhile, the USTR has invited approximately 600 trade ‘advisors’ not only to read the text, but provide feedback on its proposals. Unlike members of Congress, these members of the trade advisory system can access the text at any time or place via a secure online site. Also unlike members of Congress, 99 percent of these ‘advisors’ have not been elected to serve the public interest. Despite a law mandating that the advisory system encompass a “broadly representative” makeup of business, non-governmental and government actors, 84 percent of these ‘advisors’ exclusively represent corporations (including pharmaceutical giants like Abbott, agribusiness behemoths like Cargill, and private equity firms like Capital Partners) or industry associations.”