Twenty groups write Congress, no fast track without public access to trade agreement negotiating texts

Twenty groups, including KEI, have written Congress, asking the Congress to provide public access to draft trade agreement texts and U.S. proposals throughout negotiations, and to specific that only agreements developed through such processes should obtain any expedited congressional consideration.

Among other things, the groups said:

As Congress contemplates whether or how to delegate its constitutional authority over trade policy to the Obama administration, we understand that a Fast Track trade authority bill is expected soon and that it may include revised provisions around transparency in trade negotiations. If the trade authority bill is to actually increase transparency, then it must go much further than simply codifying past practices. At a minimum, any trade authority legislation should mandate that in order for a trade agreement to be granted expedited consideration in Congress, both U.S. draft textual proposals and the consolidated bracketed negotiating texts must be made public at regular intervals during the negotiating process. Trade negotiations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that have not met these transparency standards should not receive any Fast Track treatment.

Greater transparency is essential because these negotiations are of unprecedented scope with respect to both the subject matter and the countries potentially involved. The current TPP partners sum up to 40 percent of world GDP and the proposed “docking” mechanism could allow other countries to join.

The subject matter now being negotiated extends significantly beyond tariffs and other traditional trade matters. As the United States will be obliged to bring existing and future domestic policies into compliance with the international norms established in the pact, this process would establish policies binding on future U.S. Congresses and state legislatures on numerous non-trade subjects currently under the jurisdiction of these domestic legislative bodies.

A copy of the two page letter is available here

/wp-content/uploads/Transparency-Groups-FastTrack-Transparency-3-23-15.pdf

It was signed by:

  • American Library Association
  • Association of College & Research Libraries
  • Association of Research Libraries
  • Center for Effective Government
  • Center for Media and Democracy
  • Center for Science and Democracy, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in
  • Washington (CREW)
  • Defending Dissent Foundation
  • Food & Water Watch
  • Government Accountability Project
  • Knowledge Ecology International
  • Liberty Coalition
  • OpenTheGovernment.org
  • Project Censored
  • Public Citizen
  • Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural
  • Special Libraries Association
  • Sunlight Foundation
  • U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)
  • Washington Coalition for Open Government
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James Love

Director of Knowledge Ecology International, from the Washington, DC office.