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US: Members of Congress demand to see secret trade deals

GMO Inside | January 12, 2015

Members of Congress demand to see secret trade deals

By Anna Meyer

Rep. DeLauro (D-CT) speaking at the press conference.

The United States is currently in the process of negotiating two major trade deals. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a being negotiated with 11 Pacific Rim nations and the US. Its European counterpart, the Trans Atlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP), is an agreement between the European Union and US. Both of these deals aim to harmonize regulatory standards with the goal of increasing US exports and business abroad. With the hopes of passing these bills very quickly and with little to no public involvement, members of Congress introduced a bill that would grant the President fast-track authority which would put the sole responsibility of negotiating and decision making in the hands of US Trade Representatives and the President. “Fast Track” prevents any Congressional oversight or changes.

While some members of Congress are happy to waive their rights to participate in the process, others are extremely weary to grant sole authority to documents that have yet to be seen. Representatives from major industries and European trade representatives are negotiating the trade deals secretly; these deals don’t necessarily take into account the best interest of the American people and have historical negative impacts on developing countries; consider NAFTA.

“It is incomprehensible to me that the leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP while, at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge as to what is in it,” Sanders said in a letter (pdf) sent Monday to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. “Members of Congress must have the opportunity to read what is in the TPP and closely analyze the potential impact this free trade agreement would have on the American people long before the Senate votes to give the President fast track trade promotion authority.”

US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and others, are demanding that trade representatives turn over a full text of the TPP trade agreement. Sanders is concerned that the agreement will solely benefit large corporations at the expense of the American people. These trade deals will impact a number of areas beyond trade and have major impacts on regulations and international commitments, all things that fall under Congress oversight. By authorizing fast track authority, the system of checks and balances would be impeded with potentially devastating impacts to our environment and food safety.

Watch the January 8, 2015 press conference as members of Congress, Rep. DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Slaughter (D-NY), and Rep. Miller (D-CA) and others, speak out against fast track.

 source: GMO Inside