Secretive Process in Indo-Pacific Trade Talks Is a Breeding Ground for Unchecked Corporate Influence

For Immediate Release: July 27, 2022
Contact: David Rosen, drosen@citizen.org 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo issued a short readout from the first Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) discussions that concluded today.” Ahead of the meeting, more than 100 organizations called for transparent and participatory negotiations, while U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) criticized the revolving door between Big Tech companies and the U.S. Commerce Department. Melinda St. Louis, Global Trade Watch director at Public Citizen, issued the following statement:

“The anodyne meeting readout tells us little about the substance of IPEF and even less about the process. It’s unclear how the president will achieve his goal of a new, worker-centered model for trade if he fails to depart from the secretive, corporate-dominated process that produced the widely unpopular free trade agreements of the past.

“Administration officials appear to be moving forward without even the usual-but-insufficient procedures requiring notice of meetings and congressional consultation. By holding this ministerial meeting without advance notice, without any stakeholder consultation, and without any communication about the substance of the discussion, the IPEF process has thus far been even more secretive than the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a pact so unpopular it never had majority support in Congress. 

“Big Tech in particular has been lobbying for IPEF and other trade initiatives to protect their power at the expense of consumers’ online privacy and economic competition under the guise of digital trade. The revolving door between Big Tech companies and the Department of Commerce already raises concerns whose interests will be prioritized in negotiations. A secretive process will only give corporations more power to dominate the substance of these trade talks.”

 

###