Desperate To Sew Up TPP Negotiations At Any Cost, Politicians Agree All Future Meetings Will Be Completely Secret04/09/2013 17:05
We've been reporting for several years about the extraordinary levels of secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, where little information was released about what was going on, and there were few opportunities for representatives of civic and other groups to meet with negotiators to present their point of view. More recently, there have been some indications that this lack of transparency is fuelling increasing discontentamong some of the participating nations.
In order to get the trade deal sewn up by the end of this year, and before resistance spreads further, the negotiators have decided to hold 'inter-sessional' meetings for the remaining unresolved areas. But as this article from Scoop explains, these won't be like routine TPP meetings, with their routinely unhelpful levels of opacity:
Detective work indicates that informal 'inter-sessional' meetings on six chapters are scheduled within the next four weeks -- all in North America.
' "Inter-sessional" is a misnomer', says Professor Kelsey, 'because they are not planning any more formal sessions. There will be no access for the media or stakeholders to these smaller meetings.'
'Past inter-sessionals have been shrouded in secrecy to ensure we can't find out what's happening and we don't have access to those negotiators who see value in talking with us.'
'The last three years of the TPPA have been widely condemned for their lack of transparency. The process is now going further underground'.
That is, rather than opening up TPP in response to widening criticisms, its negotiators will now be meeting in complete secret, presumably until they emerge with some kind of a deal, however bad. Since no information will be released about those gatherings behind closed doors, and there will be no opportunities to convey concerns to the participants, the public in whose name all these talks are taking place will have no way of knowing what is going on or of offering its views. It's the ultimate in arrogant, "we know best" negotiations where citizens are expected to accept what is given, no discussion allowed.
The last time this approach was used on this scale was for ACTA, which was ultimately rejected, largely because the European public took to the streets to express its outrage at the contempt being shown towards it by the negotiators. Interestingly, in Colombia people are already taking to the streets to protest against the effects of free trade agreements with the US, Europe and Canada, at least in part. Do the governments participating in the now-secret TPP negotiations really want to risk the same happening in their own countries?