As the administration continues to be ridiculously secretive about negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, it seems that even various state governments are growing concerned about the process. The Maine state legislature issued a joint resolution demanding that the administration be much more open in how it negotiates international trade agreements. The resolution states that it strongly supports good international agreements, but that they need to be open and transparent. It notes that the lack of transparency has meant that trade negotiations have come to agreements against states’ own interests and that the negotiators do not consult the states, despite the massive impact these agreements have on state economies. Then it specifically calls out the TPP, and says that the administration must improve the process. Here’s just a few of the lines from the resolution, though you can read the whole thing at the link above.
WHEREAS, existing trade agreements have effects that extend significantly beyond the bounds of traditional trade matters, such as tariffs and quotas, and can undermine Maine’s regulatory authority and constitutionally guaranteed authority to protect the public health, safety and welfare; and
WHEREAS, a succession of federal trade negotiators from both political parties over the years has failed to operate in a transparent manner and failed to meaningfully consult with states on the far-reaching impact of trade agreements on state and local laws, even when binding the State of Maine to the terms of these agreements; and
WHEREAS, the negative effect of existing trade agreements on Maine’s regulatory authority and constitutionally guaranteed authority to protect the public health, safety and welfare has occurred in part because United States trade policy has been formulated and implemented in a process that lacks transparency, fails to properly recognize the principles of state sovereignty and lacks any meaningful opportunity for congressional review and acceptance; and
WHEREAS, the United States Trade Representative is currently negotiating the terms of a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which will have a significant effect upon the citizens and commerce of the State of Maine; and
WHEREAS, there is a current opportunity for improving the process by which significant foreign trade policy agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement are negotiated; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED: That We, your Memorialists, respectfully urge and request the President of the United States and the Congress of the United States to improve the process by which United States trade agreements are developed and implemented in order to encourage meaningful transparency and appropriately acknowledge the vital role of state sovereignty and afford more meaningful opportunity for congressional review and acceptance
When even the state governments are complaining about the lack of transparency in trade negotiations that impact them, can the USTR really continue to pretend that there are no problems with the way it goes about these negotiations?