The U.S. Trade Representative’s office conducted a “stakeholders’ forum” for interested groups at the latest round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an accord that would create the biggest trade zone in U.S. history.
About 150 representatives from some of those groups, including the Sierra Club, Public Citizen and the Communications Workers of America gathered on a grassy hillside after the event, where they called for proposals to be made public and chanted “Flush the TPP!”
“We want negotiators to release the text, to tell people what they’re proposing in our names,” Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of the Washington-based Citizens Trade Campaign and an organizer of the protest, said in an interview.
Transparency has become an issue of the Pacific-region talks, with consumer, labor and environmental groups siding with some U.S. lawmakers who want participants to make their positions public. U.S. officials have said they will hold a public comment period and congressional review after talks are complete, in line with their policy for recent trade deals including those with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
Representatives from Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the U.S. are meeting through Sept. 15 in Leesburg, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) from Washington. The group next month will be expanded to include Mexico and Canada.
The Trans-Pacific agreement is being drafted as a model for future pacts as President Barack Obama’s administration seeks to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014.
The stakeholder gathering in Leesburg was the largest of its kind during the 14 rounds of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, which the U.S. has participated in since 2010.