Copies of one of the biggest free trade deals are sitting in separate rooms of the Capitol. With access to only staffers and members of congress, many are wondering about the secrecy behind the deal. Unfortunately, this is how negotiations work when it comes to trade deals.
The Secrecy Surrounding TPP
Because this document is classified, official parties viewing it aren’t able to make copies or take notes that they’ve made while viewing it out the door with them. Leaders of the twelve countries involved in the deal are so fearful that their negotiations will be undercut, they don’t want what anything to be leaked until the full deal has been completed. Critical opponents of TPP say that they’ve worked in the past with both the Busch and Clinton administrations, and the current Obama administration has been the most secretive. Opponents of the deal aren’t the only ones pressuring for more details. A 100,000 bounty was recently announced by WikiLeaks for any text surrounding the TPP negotiation.
What is this Massive Deal About?
The TPP is a deal that includes 12 nations such as Australia, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and the United States to name a few. If passed, it would join together 40 percent of the world’s economy. The U.S. has been integral in the negotiations since the early stages of Obama’s first term in office. However, all that hard work could be undone if a vote to place it on the “fast track” fails to go their way. Most of the support for the deal comes from the larger business community and manufacturers. Voting in support could mean that manufacturers could sell products overseas. It would also mean an increase in world-wide competitiveness and being able to create more jobs. However, many question what this would mean for the American worker and if they would lose out on employment opportunities being outsourced to other countries.
Hard to Comprehend
President Obama has had his hands full with ISIS and Iraq. However, the TPP agreement is something that he’s been involved in since the beginning. He’s even a master with the dialogue and text. When it comes to Americans comprehending the proposal, even if the majority of them had a chance to review the TPP deal, it probably wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense. Texts in regards to trade negotiations are blanketed by extra wording, brackets and notes. Many times the words are only decipherable to those familiar with this sort of deal. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal in April, President Obama said the agreement would be available for review when it’s done. In the meantime, negotiators working on the trade are barred from sharing any information on the text and details inside the trade deal. Countries involved in the negotiations are also banned from talking freely about it. They even make certain pacts before the process begins. In addition to setting off political alarms, the talks would grind to a halt if any information was divulged. Representatives from large corporations and labor union leaders are able to get more information about the agreement than that of the general public.
Congress Has Taken Special Interest in the Deal
Congress has increased their interest in the TPP agreement in recent months. However, during 2012 to March 2015, only 40 House members and three senators chose to take part in the negotiating text briefings. As the Democratic opposition became more apparent, the text of the TPP agreement was move into the Capitol. Lawmakers are now able to review it any time they choose. Because some members of Congress say that it’s so riddled with dense text and jargon, they feel the trade staffers should be able to take it with them for further review.
Leaked Drafts of the Text
While the TPP agreement has been kept secretive, there are some leaked drafts of the text. Some of the items of note include more restrictions than the recent international standards and major changes to the copyright laws of other countries. When asked why the public should care what’s inside the text, the TPP could raise numerous concerns in regards to due process, freedom of expression, innovation, and the future of the Internet’s world-wide infrastructure.