Public Citizen Applauds ‘Promoting Transparency in Trade Act’

July 20, 2017

Public Citizen Applauds ‘Promoting Transparency in Trade Act’

Statement of Lori Wallach, Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Note: U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) today introduced the “Promoting Transparency in Trade Act” with the following co-sponsors: Democratic Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Connecticut), Tim Ryan (Ohio), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Jamie Raskin (Maryland), Keith Ellison (Minnesota), Raul Grijalva (Arizona), John Conyers (Michigan), Jan Schakowsky (Illinois), Louise Slaughter (New York), Mark DeSaulnier (California), Dan Lipinksi (Illinois), Chellie Pingree (Maine), Brad Sherman (California), Jim McGovern (Massachusetts), Rick Nolan (Minnesota) and Mark Pocan (Wisconsin).

Public Citizen applauds Rep. Dingell for introducing the “Promoting Transparency in Trade Act.” 

If the Trump administration intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to stop its ongoing damage and make it better for working people, as candidate Trump pledged, it must follow the transparency reforms in this bill.

For too long, U.S. trade deals have been crafted behind closed doors without public scrutiny. While the public and Congress have been shut out, 500 mostly corporate U.S. trade advisers have had access to the texts. This secrecy has allowed corporate interests to hijack the trade negotiation process with disastrous results for workers, consumers and the environment. 

Rep. Dingell’s legislation would require the U.S. Trade Representative to make public the texts of its proposals, as well as to publish draft agreement texts after each round of trade negotiations. 

Given that today’s trade agreements are no longer just about tariffs and quotes, but set binding rules that dramatically impact all aspects of our lives, from medicine prices to food safety to financial stability, much greater transparency is necessary. Absent the broad public debate necessary to ensure that U.S. trade policy actually benefits the people, instead of a small set of corporate interests, the public is souring on the very concept of trade.

This legislation is especially important now, after the administration just released a document outlining negotiating objectives for NAFTA that are too vague to reveal what will be demanded on key issues. It is therefore impossible to determine whether improvements for working people could be in the offing or whether the worst aspects of the rejected Trans-Pacific Partnership will be added, making NAFTA yet more damaging for working people. The administration should follow this bill’s terms and do what the European Union already does: make public its actual proposals being shared with Mexico and Canada prior to talks starting.