Some folks are complaining about the lack of transparency in the TPP negotiation process:
Despite claims by the U.S. government of considerable transparency in the process, the talks, being held in Dallas, are covering material that has remained almost completely out of the public's eye.
'Because the negotiations have been conducted in extreme secrecy, we have no idea yet what is in the text,' says Rashmi Rangnath, a director with Public Knowledge, an advocacy group here in Washington. 'What we do know is that lack of transparency tends to skew the text of such agreements in favour of large corporations.'
I'm not a trade negotiator. I've never been a trade negotiator. I probably never will be a trade negotiator. So I'm a little uncertain how this all works. Nonetheless, let me say this. As much as I like the idea of transparency in the abstract, I'm not sure I see how it would work in practice in the context of trade negotiations. When you are negotiating something, in order to get the best deal possible, you need to keep a lot of things confidential. You don't want to let on about your objectives. How transparent can these negotiations be? What kind of documents should be put out there? How much can each party say about what it is trying to achieve?
Also, for comparison's sake, how transparent is legislation? This makes me think of the US statute banning clove and other flavored cigarettes, but not menthol. I've been trying to figure out what the objective of the legislators in that situation was. But I can't find anything that tells me what anyone was thinking as they drafted the statute. Are trade agreements any less transparent than the usual legislative process?