WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. and New Zealand reportedly signed a confidentiality agreement with respect to Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) negotiations, requiring that all texts would be kept confidential for five years after negotiations are completed. Melinda St. Louis, Global Trade Watch director for Public Citizen, issued the following statement:
“It’s deeply disappointing to see that the U.S. government apparently has asked governments participating in the Indo-Pacific talks to sign extreme secrecy agreements, with an even longer period of secrecy than the unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It does not bode well that this secrecy agreement was signed before the administration has even clarified what their process will be for consultation with stakeholders and Congress. Will this IPEF be negotiated with even more secrecy than the TPP? So far, it seems so.
“These secrecy agreements only deepen the skepticism of people in the U.S. and across the Asia-Pacific that these talks will produce more of the same corporate-dominated trade policies that harm workers and the planet.
“The Biden administration should immediately reverse course and clarify that it does NOT intend to require such secrecy and instead intends to publish text proposals and negotiating texts for public review and participation in all IPEF countries to ensure that any agreement charts a new ‘worker-centered’ path forward.”