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With Democratic leaders Reed and Pelosi taking positions of opposition to fast track secret negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership tread deal, the Obama administration is facing major obstacles to the path that they have been determined to pursue. It is now also clear that the governments of several other countries involved in the negotiations are encountering similar political problems.


There are a large number of signatories from Malasia and Peru. There are very few from Canada, Mexico and Australia. There are seven from New Zealand. The response of the government trade minister there offers a clear picture of the attitude of the people trying to push this through to the institutions of Democratic government.

Calls for TPP transparency are code for destroying it, says Groser

Campaigners against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations want the negotiating texts made public to help ensure the process fails, says Trade Minister Tim Groser.

"Those people who are opposed to the agreement want access to the texts so they can blow it apart," he said in an interview with BusinessDesk ahead of a speech today to the ABAC Business Leaders meeting in Auckland where he rejected analysis challenging the claimed benefits of a TPP trade deal.

"So the idea that doing all this in the glare of publicity would help the process is naïve, except that my view is that ... actually these people (TPP opponents) are smart," said Groser. "They want this to be done in the full glare of transparency to increase the controversy to the point where it's unmanageable and will destroy the agreement.
This really sounds like something from a few centuries ago. The rabble has no business interfering in the conduct of public affairs. Important affairs are the proper business of their betters.

Meanwhile in the US the office of the US Trade Representative is in top secret overdrive.

USTR Finally Realizing Its All Encompassing Secrecy May Be A Problem, Calls Frantic Meeting For All 'Cleared' Lobbyists

Given that, it appears that the USTR is in panic mode, and has frantically called an all day meeting for all "cleared advisors" (i.e., the corporate representatives who actually do get to see the document) concerning the whole transparency issue.

In an apparent effort to defuse mounting criticism that the Obama administration is being too secretive about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on short notice has called an all-day briefing for all cleared advisers on Feb. 11, according to sources familiar with a memo sent by USTR announcing the meeting.

All of this brings to mind the first of Woodrow Wilson's famous 14 Points.
Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.
It would appear that is a principle by which the US government is no longer adhering to.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They really do need to embrace transparency (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northsylvania, side pocket, chimene, koNko

    I'm not as anti-free trade as many here are, I reluctantly and with many asterisks kinda-sorta embrace it. However, keeping the details secret is not making me feel warm and fuzzy about this deal.

    Thus my opinion is they need to kill it unless and until they are willing to explain it.

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    by BoiseBlue on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 01:43:12 PM PST

    •  The information that has leaked out (10+ / 0-)

      indicates that this is a lot more than a conventional trade agreement. It sets up a system of international tribunals that have the power to override the authority of national law.

      •  I'm not completely up to date on it (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        side pocket, chimene, koNko

        But last time I was looking into it, I'm not sure I completely trusted the sources of the leaks.

        That being said, it is clear that this is much different than a conventional TA. I agree with you on that.

        It's pretty bad when even lobbyists for the agreement remain tight-lipped to their constituents, not even trying to sell them on whatever it is that's happening. I am under the impression that most of them (US trade lobbyists, that is) are also in the dark about what this means.

        NOT a good sign.

        P.S. I am not a crackpot.

        by BoiseBlue on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 01:49:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  FTAs (0+ / 0-)

        But that's the same as what's in almost all the other trade agreements we have.  That's hardly new or secret.

        •  Then why the need for all the secrecy? n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sunspots, koNko
          •  Aren't negotiations always done confidentially? (0+ / 0-)

            I'm not aware of any that are done in public.  Presumably it would be easier to negotiate without the whole world looking over your shoulder yelling at you every time you suggest a compromise.

            •  Original negotiations may be confidential (5+ / 0-)

              but what is being asked for here is the authority to conclude them without lawmakers having any input into the process. They can only vote the final product in or out. In the US they do not have to surrender that authority to the government and there is growing resistance to doing so in this case. It is always "easier" to do things in secret and then ram them down the public's throat. You may find it reasonable, many other people do not.

              •  Original (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                side pocket

                Aren't we still in the original TPP negotiations?  As far as I know they're still negotiating.

                Do lawmakers have input into any other negotiations with foreign governments that they're not getting with TPP?  I don't see how this is any different than other international negotiations.

                •  Yes they frequently do have input. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Involuntary Exile, side pocket, koNko

                  Politically it is usually a necessary part of the ratification process.

                  •  Input (0+ / 0-)

                    If Congress typically only has input as part of the ratification process then the TPP is very transparent in comparison.  USTR says they consulted with Congress 1100 times just last year alone.  The Obama administration looks like the most transparent in history.

                    Held More than 1,100 Meetings and Briefings with Congress on Key USTR Initiatives.  Ambassador Froman and USTR staff held more than 1,100 briefings with Members of Congress and their staffs on the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in 2013, ensuring that the people’s representatives in Congress were kept abreast of the content and progress of the talks and had ample opportunity to shape ongoing U.S. negotiating efforts.
                    •  Secret briefings. (3+ / 0-)

                      Alan Grayson was one of the members of Congress granted access to, but not provided copies of, the drafts as they then existed back in mid-2013. He was prohibited from discussing them with anyone as they were "classified".
                      "This, more than anything, shows the abuse of the classified information system," Grayson told HuffPost. "They maintain that the text is classified information. And I get clearance because I'm a member of Congress, but now they tell me that they don't want me to talk to anybody about it because if I did, I'd be releasing classified information."
                      Having seen what I've seen, I would characterize this as a gross abrogation of American sovereignty," he added. "I would further characterize it as a punch in the face to the middle class of America. I think that's fair to say from what I've seen so far. But I'm not allowed to tell you why!"

            •  Your argument is either ignorant or disingenuous (2+ / 0-)

              Confidence and extreme secrecy are two different things and the latter has been the well-documented protocol of this negotiation for reasons now becoming apparent as the wall cracks and details begin to leak.

              And it becomes equally apparent why the proponents have been so hell-bent on forcing a fast-track process for ratification through Congress, something you conveniently fail to mention, although I'm sure you have an explanation why, after negotiating in secret, there is no need for a detailed Congressional vetting and public debate.

              So please don't hold out on us, explain why this should be negotiated in secret and then rushed through ratification; no doubt, all in the public interest.

              No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

              by koNko on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 07:07:11 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Not necessarily (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Richard Lyon

          There are a lot of loopholes in NAFTA, CAFTA, and other FTAs that protect each nation's interest.

          The US can't, for example, flood Mexico with cheap sugar, and there are complicated quota structures in place that often render the FTA null and void.

          That is because each nation is still considered a separate entity with independent and often competing interests, and no nation wants to be steamrolled by the other.

          From what little we know about this specific FTA, those safeguards are being chipped away. If US Customs has zero discretion and no ability to block foreign goods, our economy could be flooded with cheaper versions of products that have a high value here. Traditional FTAs stop that scenario. This one might not.

          And that's not good for anyone.

          P.S. I am not a crackpot.

          by BoiseBlue on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 03:10:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  They can't be transparent because it is odious, (4+ / 0-)

    sleazy and anti-democratic. It isn't sekret from big corporations, only from us hoi polloi.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Fri Feb 14, 2014 at 05:41:16 PM PST

  •  TPP Secrecy (6+ / 0-)

    Sen. Elizabeth already anticipated folks like Groser back in June 2013.

    “I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative’s policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant,” Warren explained. “In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it. This argument is exactly backwards. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.”

  •   The reason for secrecy is clear (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Richard Lyon

    TPP was engineered to meet 2 objectives; promote the interests of multinational corporations and rehabilitate flagging American influence in Asia against China, which serves the interests of a military-industrial complex in need of client states.

    What is doubtful is how it serves the public interests of any of the countries involved since it is yet another trade agreement with clauses that give corporations the power to supersede national laws to promote their interests above the working public.

    And in the case of the USA, one has to question if the economy can stand a NAFTA agreement on steroids at this point, and by extension, how that bodes for a weak global economy somewhat depending on a US recovery to counter-balance and inevitable slow-down in the Chinese economy as the global economy rebalances.

    But I'll suggest we can get a clue from the US-Korea FTA, which was supposed to improve the US-ROK trade balance but has had exactly the opposite effect, widening the gap as US exports to Korea decline year on year and Korean exports to the US increase.

    No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

    by koNko on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 08:37:50 AM PST

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