* The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is poised to become the largest free trade agreement ever. Current negotiating countries include the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, but the TPP is also specifically intended as a “docking agreement” that all Pacific Rim nations will join over time. Canada, Japan and Mexico are already pressing to do so, and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk has said he would like nothing more than for China to join the TPP.
* The TPP covers far more than traditional trade-related topics such as tariffs and quotas. The TPP is believed to include some 26 separate chapters that are likely to affect jobs, wages, agriculture, migration, the environment, access to medicine, consumer safety, banking regulations, indigenous rights, Internet protocols, government procurement and more.
* The public has been demanding a voice in the TPP negotiations. During the Dallas Round in May 2012, labor, environmental and consumer advocates delivered over 42,000 petition signatures to USTR urging them to inform the American public what they have been proposing in Americans’ names. USTR has, thus far, flatly refused to do so, instead cynically opting to post photos of the petition delivery on its website, supposedly as evidence of broad public participation and consultation.
* Many Members of Congress have also been denied access to TPP negotiating texts. This includes Senator Ron Wyden, who chairs the Senate Trade Subcommittee charged with overseeing U.S. trade policy. The Senator has special security clearances as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
* Corporate lobbyists have access that the American public and their elected officials have been denied. The USTR has granted approximately 600 corporate lobbyists special “cleared advisor” status that enables them to review and comment upon specific negotiating drafts. If nothing else, this creates an appearance of double-standards.
* There are precedents for sharing draft trade negotiating texts with the public. The World Trade Organization (WTO), for instance, posts composite negotiating texts on its websites for public review and comment. In 2001, the Bush administration released the full draft text of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
* The window of opportunity for meaningful public and Congressional input in the TPP is rapidly closing. The upcoming San Diego Round of TPP negotiations is the thirteenth major round. Officials from various negotiating countries have stated that the pact is already between half and 75% complete. Once negotiations have concluded, it is extremely difficult to make substantive changes.
Learn more about the TPP with the following fact sheets: