Ahead of the Senate vote on Trade Adjustment Authority (TPA) Tuesday that would give President Obama fast-track authority to finalize his trade negotiations – mainly the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) – Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) is calling for the U.S. Trade Representative to release the current draft of Obama’s TPP in a public letter.
The trade deal has been widely criticized since it has been kept in secret and hidden from the public – and even some parts from Congressional review.
Lance says the deal should be made more transparent to the American people.
In a letter addressed to Michael Froman, the U.S. Trade Representative, Lance wrote, “My constituents support free trade and increasing good-paying jobs and economic growth in New Jersey. They, however, want trade agreements that are transparent and good for American workers and American taxpayers. Yet the TPP negotiating text is currently classified and only members of Congress and staffers with security clearance can access it. I believe declassifying and releasing the negotiating text online will bring much-needed transparency, accountability and public awareness to the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement and its policy implications.”
The current trade draft has been deemed classified by the Obama Administration. Members of Congress have to go to a secured room to review part of the trade agreement; however, they cannot take notes or talk about it after reading the text.
Lance said he is one of a handful of Congressmen who have actually read and reviewed the text.
President George W. Bush had the U.S. Trade Representative reveal his trade deal in 2001 prior to requesting fast-track trade authority from Congress.
The Trade Representative at the time — Robert B. Zoellick — said Bush’s transparency was an “Unprecedented effort to make international trade and its economic and social benefits more understandable to the public.”
“The Bush Administration allowed the American people to view the entire Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement in 2001 prior to its enactment. This Administration should do the same. It is time for the Obama Administration to release the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s negotiating text to the public,” Lance concluded.
Lance voted down the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill – as many others did – over the lack of transparency by the Obama Administration.