House Democrats Call on Administration to Open Trade Talks

Request Access as Observers to Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations

 

WASHINGTON, DC—Eight Democratic members of the House of Representatives today called on the Obama Administration to open access and include them as observers at the 14th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.  The talks, starting September 6, will address issues of critical importance, including Buy American policies, financial regulation, access to lifesaving medicines in developing nations, and the safety of imported food.  In June, Representatives Rosa DeLauro and George Miller led a group of more than 130 House members requesting greater consultations with Congress and more transparency as TPP negotiations continue.

 

“Last month, we were among the 134 House members that wrote to urge you and your staff to engage in broader and deeper consultations with members of the full range of congressional committees whose jurisdiction is implicated by the TPP’s expansive scope,” the members wrote. “We also requested that you continue past U.S. practice and release the draft TPP text, as a past administration did with respect to Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) draft text in 2001. We have had neither a response to that letter nor offers of enhanced consultations and access to draft text. Thus, so as to ensure that that there is ample opportunity for Congress to have a clear understanding of and input on critical policies that will have broad ramifications for years to come, we are requesting that you facilitate our ability to observe the TPP negotiations directly.”

 

The full letter is as follows:

 

August 28, 2012

 

The Honorable Ron Kirk

Office of the United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20508

 

Dear Ambassador Kirk:

           

We write to request access as observers to the 14th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations that will take place at the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, Virginia from September 6-15, 2012. 

 

We are aware that in the context of past important trade negotiations, the Office of the United States Trade Representative has accommodated sizeable congressional delegations that have included Representatives and Senators from various committees. This included negotiations relating to the Uruguay Round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the launch of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round and various North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) rounds.

 

Last month, we were among the 134 House members that wrote to urge you and your staff to engage in broader and deeper consultations with members of the full range of congressional committees whose jurisdiction is implicated by the TPP’s expansive scope. We also requested that you continue past U.S. practice and release the draft TPP text, as a past administration did with respect to Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) draft text in 2001.

 

We have had neither a response to that letter nor offers of enhanced consultations and access to draft text. Thus, so as to ensure that that there is ample opportunity for Congress to have a clear understanding of and input on critical policies that will have broad ramifications for years to come, we are requesting that you facilitate our ability to observe the TPP negotiations directly.

 

Each of us has previously taken leadership aimed at improving consultations on various issues of interest to us and at stake within the context of the TPP negotiations. These include seeking to address concerns that the agreement being negotiated may undermine Buy American procurement policies, place limits on robust financial regulation, provide extraordinary substantive and procedural rights to foreign investors, restrict access to lifesaving medicines in developing nations, and jeopardize the safety of imported food, to name a few. We remain deeply concerned about these issues.

 

We request that your office contact our offices as soon as possible to make logistical arrangements to accommodate us and certain members of our staff to be present as observers to the various negotiating groups covering our issues of concern. Thank you for your prompt consideration of this request.         

 

Sincerely,

                                          

ROSA L. DeLAURO                                                        

Member of Congress                                                         

 

GEORGE MILLER

Member of Congress

                                                      

JOHN CONYERS, JR.                                                     

Member of Congress                                                          

 

DONNA F. EDWARDS

Member of Congress

 

JANICE D. SCHAKOWSKY                                                       

Member of Congress                                                         

 

NICK J. RAHALL, II

Member of Congress

 

PETER A. DeFAZIO                                                        

Member of Congress

 

MARCY KAPTUR                                                          

Member of Congress