Sen. Al Franken Urges Transparency on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Dallas TPP summit is the 12th major round of negotiations on the proposed trade and investment pact between the U.S. and countries throughout the Pacific Rim. USTR has reportedly proposed text for most, if not all, of some 26 separate chapters, covering everything from financial regulations and government procurement to consumer safety standards and the environment. None of those proposals have been officially released to the public.

“As you know, the TPP is an ambitious multilateral trade agreement currently under negotiation between nine countries – and that number may grow over time. As your office has stated, it may ultimately be the single largest trade agreement by volume in U.S. history. That makes it all the more important that the agreement be crafted in the most transparent and participatory manner possible,” writes Sen. Franken.

“…it is vitally important that the American people have as much information as possible with respect to the negotiating texts and U.S. proposals while the negotiations are still ongoing, not only once and agreement has been completed. Likewise, your consultations should be as wide as possible among stakeholders.

“I therefore request that, to the greatest extent possible, you make the substance of the proposals you have tabled public and continue to do so at the conclusion of each negotiating round. That will enable fuller input from a wider range of stakeholders, and I also request that you work to ensure that stakeholders have full and equal opportunity for input into the positions our negotiators take in the course of negotiations.”

Unfortunately, the empirical data of similar free trade agreements show major trade deficits and job loss in the U.S., including 70,712 jobs lost in Minnesota as a result of Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China in the first 10 years of that agreement – over 2.5% of the entire workforce – according to the Economic Policy Institute.

In past trade negotiations including at the World Trade Organization, the USTR has released draft texts of the negotiations after each round to the public. However, TPP negotiations have set a new bar for secrecy, with the only texts available being ones leaked to the media.

“Americans deserve to know what our government is proposing,” said Josh Wise, Director of the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition. “Free trade agreements have sent thousands of jobs overseas and severely weakened the ability of local governments to maintain the quality of life for their citizens. We applaud Senator Franken’s efforts to ensure that government is open, transparent and responsible to the people it serves.”