Yet Another Secret Trade Deal – Are We Citizens Or Subjects?

Dave Johnson

In addition to the notorious Trans-Pacific Partnership, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is negotiating another secret trade deal. This one is a trade, investment, and governance agreement with the European Union (EU) called the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Once again, everything is secret – at least on the U.S. side.

Last week, representatives from more than 75 U.S.-based organizations involved in “good governance and transparency,” as well as members of Congress, sent a letter calling on the trade representative to open up TTIP negotiations to at least some transparency so the public can have some idea what is being negotiated in their name. The letter says the secrecy “demeans the role of citizens—in many ways treating us more like subjects than the source of legitimate governmental power that we are.”

Marc Perrone, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) said of the letter,

“The U.S. must show its commitment to creating better trade deals and better lives by immediately releasing their TTIP proposals. Trade agreements negotiated in secret have had a devastating impact upon our families, our jobs, and this nation. Hard-working men and women simply cannot afford anything less than complete transparency when it comes to global trade.”

EU Handles This Differently

Here’s the thing. The EU is already publishing its own proposals in advance of going into negotiations, so that the European public can know what is going on. The USTR still isn’t even letting members of Congress see any TTIP text, even in a secure room as it eventually did with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). From the letter,

As you know, on January 7, 2015, the European Commission published the “actual language and binding commitments” it has proposed for the TTIP, including eight EU textual proposals on “competition, food safety and animal and plant health, customs issues, technical barriers to trade, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and government-to-government dispute settlement (GGDS, not to be confused with ISDS).” Additionally, the EU press release noted, “[i]n line with its determination to make EU trade policy more transparent, the Commission intends to publish further texts and proposals in the course of the negotiations, as they become available.”

Meanwhile, EU citizens are reacting to the negotiations. On October 10, there was a demonstration against TTIP in Berlin and as many as 250,000 people turned out. Environmental groups, charities and opposition parties organized the rally against free trade deals involving the United States and Canada. A Reuters report on the massive demonstration explained that EU citizens are afraid of corporate dictatorship and too much power being handed to the multinationals:

Opposition to the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has risen over the past year in Germany, with critics fearing the pact will hand too much power to big multinationals at the expense of consumers and workers.

“What bothers me the most is that I don’t want all our consumer laws to be softened,” Oliver Zloty told Reuters TV. “And I don’t want to have a dictatorship by any companies.”

Other than this report, this demonstration received extremely limited coverage in the U.S. corporate media.

TPP Disclosure Petition

Along similar lines, the AFL-CIO is asking people to sign a petition demanding that our government show us the text of the already-completed – but still secret – TPP. Click here to tell the Obama administration, “Please honor our democracy and show us the TPP text now.”

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