H ave you heard about the latest so-called trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) (citizen.org/tpp)?

If you haven't, that's not surprising. The Obama administration has been keeping the negotiations about this disguised attack on democracy under wraps. The lack of transparency about these negotiations makes a mockery of President Barack Obama's pledge that his administration would be "the most open and transparent in history."

These closed-door negotiations with eight other nations have been going on for three years, with very little coverage. According to consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs,and Global Competitiveness, has been denied access even to the U.S. proposals to the TPP negotiations.

Sen. Wyden said:

"The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negoti-

ations, while representatives of U.S. corporations -- like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast and the Motion Picture Association of America -- are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement."

The public and its representatives are kept in the dark about the TPP, whereas corporate interests are, at a minimum, kept well informed.

Earlier this month, a draft of the Investment Chapter of TPP was leaked.


According to Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch:

"Via closed-door negotiations, U.S. officials are rewriting swaths of U.S. law that have nothing to do with trade, and in a move that will infuriate left and right alike, have agreed to submit the U.S. government to the jurisdiction of foreign tribunals that can order unlimited payments of our tax dollars to foreign corporations that don't want to comply with the same laws our domestic firms do. U.S. trade officials are secretly limiting internet freedoms, restricting financial regulation, extending medicine patents and giving corporations a whole host of other powers."

In NAFTA, these tribunals consist of three professional arbitrators who meet behind closed doors. If an environ-

mental policy, the "Buy American" policy or some other democratically supported policy is found to interfere with the investment of a foreign corporation, the offending government is ordered to pay financial damages.

Thirty legal scholars have expressed similar transparency concerns about the Intellectual Property chapter. They also raised concerns about the implications of overriding laws without public input. (infojustice.org/archives/21137)

Please contact Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall and Rep. Jared Polis with your concerns about the TPP.

Ron Forthofer lives in Longmont.