By Melinda St. Louis
Together, we have cracked open the crypt hiding Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” negotiations, but TPP talks continue in extreme secrecy. While some members of Congress have begun to take notice, we need to sound a much louder alarm.
“Free” Trade Thrives on Secrecy
Until recently, trade officials and their 600 corporate advisors were enjoying their closed-door TPP negotiations with no scrutiny. Now word is slowly spreading about how the TPP would expand corporate rights to attack our environmental and public health safeguards, jack up medicine prices, and offshore millions of good jobs.
At the most recent TPP talks in Dallas last month, trade negotiators faced mounting pressure to open the process. Thanks to you, we delivered to U.S. officials a record number of signatures on a petition demanding transparency.
Then, the Yes Men crashed the corporate-sponsored reception, special TPP TP (toilet paper) rolls appeared in the hotel’s restrooms, and the words “TPP: Why So Secret?” were projected on the outside of the hotel. And hundreds of Texans rallied outside the negotiations in a Dallas suburb that is not normally a hotbed of activism.
Activism Pays Off
Our elected officials have begun to take notice. Sixty nine members of Congress sent the White House a letter opposing the plan for TPP to ban buy America procurement policies. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) published a leaked TPP chapter hitting Internet freedom. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced legislation requiring access for congressional staff to TPP texts.
But we need to escalate congressional attention to this outrage. Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.) are now circulating a major sign-on letter on TPP. It says: Stop the secrecy and change direction of these talks before it is too late.
If you take a minute to urge your representative to join his or her colleagues on this letter today, we can get 100 members of Congress on this letter before the next round of TPP talks in early July.
This will show trade negotiators from all TPP countries that the writing is on the wall: Their secret is out, and the American people demand a turnaround — no backroom deal for the 1%. Φ
Melinda St. Louis is the International Campaigns Coordinator for
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch program.