The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has not ceased to claim that they are providing ample opportunity for public stakeholders to participate in negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Agreement (TPP). One such supposed opportunity is a "stakeholder presentation" where representatives from various organizations and companies can discuss an issue of their choosing relating to the content of the TPP.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with several other civil society organizations and concerned individuals, will be in Leesburg, Virginia next week to attend these stakeholder events. We will be there because the TPP is a multilateral trade agreement that has been negotiated in secret and contains a chapter that could have wide-ranging impacts on our Internet freedom. A few days ago, we wrote about how the USTR sent all stakeholders an update: that we would be given a mere eight minutes to present to negotiators, down from the 15 minutes we had in San Diego.
Today, we have received a new email from the USTR that they would actually give stakeholders 10 minutes to make our presentations. That is an entire two more minutes for us to express our concerns to trade delegates over what could become the most powerful trade agreement of the 21st Century. More than 600 corporate representatives have already had access to the official text of the TPP, while public interest organizations only know what is being discussed at the secret TPP meetings based upon leaked documents.
Here is the email in its entirety:
We would like to thank you again for your interest in participating in the TPP stakeholder events in Leesburg, Virginia.
We are delighted by the strong response and our negotiators are looking forward to the opportunity for one-on-one engagement at the tables, which they found extremely valuable in the previous two rounds. In addition, we have received more requests than anticipated from stakeholders seeking to make presentations underscoring their key messages. We have been working to accommodate everyone to the best of our ability, given logistical constraints, and have arranged for 10 minutes per presentation – an increase from our initial announcement.
The presentations will be held in the Dogwood Rooms on September 9th, from 11 am- 2 pm. For your convenience, each room will be supplied with a laptop, projector and microphone. A presentation schedule will be sent out as soon as possible.
Have a enjoyable Labor Day weekend and we look forward to seeing you in Leesburg on Sept 9.
While this remains to be an excuse for participatory rulemaking, this does show that the USTR has finally begun to hear our calls that the secrecy over TPP must be stopped. Our message to Congress to demand transparency in these negotiations has now been taken more than 25300 times and users around the world are pressuring their governments to do the same.
Please continue to tell your representatives to demand true transparency in this process, and help us spread the word about this disasterous agreement that will trade away our Internet freedom.
If you live in the United States, join EFF and more than 25,000 people in sending a message to Congress members to demand an end to these secret backdoor negotiations:
You can also check out other ways of taking action here.