Dear Ambassador Kirk:
In February of this year, organizations representing millions of Americans wrote to you requesting that you make the negotiations on the prospective Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (FTA) more transparent than past U.S. trade negotiations. The letter noted that significant improvements in access to information and relevant texts were necessary if the Obama administration intends for Trans-Pacific FTA negotiations to result in a “new, high-standard, 21st century trade agreement.”
While we applaud your efforts to be more inclusive than the previous Administration, particularly with respect to reaching out to Congress and non-business stakeholders, the requested transparency, particularly with regard to Trans-Pacific FTA negotiating texts, has not occurred. We understand that the Trans-Pacific FTA negotiating parties have apparently signed a confidentiality agreement, which reverses recent progress in making negotiations more open and providing access to documents to facilitate informed input by more diverse parties.
In our prior letter, we cited the examples of new public access to negotiating documents that were provided in the context of negotiations at the World Trade Organization and for the Anti- Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Rather than continuing with this improved access, it appears that a Memorandum of Understanding dated March 4, 2010, which is referenced in the text of a leaked draft Intellectual Property chapter tabled by the United States government, commits the countries not to declassify documents related to the negotiations for ‘Four years from entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement enters into force, four years from the close of the negotiations.’