Coalition Demands Transparency in Trans-Pacific Trade Negotiations

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Coalition Demands Transparency in Trans-Pacific Trade Negotiations

Former Mayor Kirk brings major trade summit to Dallas area amid controversy

ADDISON - A diverse coalition of labor, environmental and trade reform advocates presented a petition today signed by over 24,000 Americans calling on the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to publicly release its proposals for the controversial new Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement. The petition was delivered to USTR staff at the Dallas Intercontinental Hotel, where top U.S. trade official and former Dallas mayor Kirk is hosting an 8-day summit aimed at moving the secretive TPP negotiations towards rapid completion.

“Americans have a right to know what U.S. representatives are proposing in our names,” said Becky Moeller, president of the Texas AFL-CIO. “A major international agreement that’s expected to affect jobs, wages, the economy and more is far too important to allow to be negotiated behind-closed-doors without informed public input.”

The Dallas TPP summit is the 12th major round of negotiations on the proposed trade and investment pact between the U.S. and countries throughout the Pacific Rim. USTR has reportedly proposed text for most, if not all, of some 26 separate chapters, covering everything from financial regulations and government procurement to consumer safety standards and the environment. None of those proposals have been officially released to the public. 

“The people whose lives will be affected by these decisions all deserve a chance to weigh in on TPP proposals at a point when their ideas still have an opportunity to be incorporated,” said Hal Suter, executive committee chair of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “That’s how policymaking works in a democracy.”

“The world can’t afford a ‘NAFTA of the Pacific,’” said Nancy Hall, executive vice president of Communications Workers of America Local 6215.  “If Wall Street banks and big corporations continue to be the main parties influencing the TPP negotiations, expect another pact that puts corporate interests ahead of working people and the environment.”

The USTR has granted approximately 600 corporate lobbyists official “cleared advisor” status that gives them access to negotiating documents and negotiators. During a Senate Finance Committee hearing in April, Ambassador Kirk claimed that no countries would be willing to negotiate trade agreements with the U.S. if negotiating drafts were shared with the general public.

“Don’t be fooled into believing that the extreme level of secrecy in the TPP negotiations is somehow the norm. Plenty of international negotiations, including those at the World Trade Organization, regularly publish draft texts for public review,” said Bob Cash, director of the Texas Fair Trade Coalition. “If the TPP negotiations can’t stand exposure to the light of day, then they aren’t worth continuing.” 

During a Global Business Dialogue Forum on the TPP in late January, Gary Horlick, a former U.S. government trade official, said, “This is the least transparent trade negotiation I have ever seen.” The point has been raised by civil society organizations in most of the nine current negotiating countries.

Texans will follow up the petition for transparency with a “TPP: Out of the Shadows!” rally and march starting at Addison Circle Park at 1:00pm on Saturday, May 12. The event has been endorsed by the Citizens Trade Campaign, Code Pink, Communications Workers of America, Dallas AFL-CIO Council, Dallas Peace Center, Friends of the Earth, International Association of Machinists, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, National Family Farm Coalition, North Texas Jobs with Justice, Occupy Texas, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Texas AFL-CIO, Texas Fair Trade Coalition, Texas State Building Trades Council, United Students Against Sweatshops, Welcoming Immigrants Network and others. For details visit: www.tppdallas.org.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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