Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today called on United States Trade Representative Michael Froman to release the draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to increase public awareness and make the TPP trade negotiation process more transparent and accessible to the American People.
In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Froman, the 7th District lawmaker wrote, “My constituents support free trade and increasing good-paying jobs and economic growth in New Jersey. They, however, want trade agreements that are transparent and good for American workers and American taxpayers. Yet the TPP negotiating text is currently classified and only members of Congress and staffers with security clearance can access it. I believe declassifying and releasing the negotiating text online will bring much-needed transparency, accountability and public awareness to the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement and its policy implications.”
The Obama Administration has deemed the TPP negotiating text as classified. Members of Congress can read the draft agreement under heavy restrictions, but they cannot publicly discuss or consult on what they have read. Lance is one of a handful of members of Congress who has seen and read the TPP text.
Lance noted that in 2001 then U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick released the draft text of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement online months before Congress granted President George W. Bush so-called “fast track authority” for that agreement. Mr. Zoellick called the act, “unprecedented effort to make international trade and its economic and social benefits more understandable to the public.”
“The Bush Administration allowed the American people to view the entire Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement in 2001 prior to its enactment. This Administration should do the same. It is time for the Obama Administration to release the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s negotiating text to the public,” concluded Lance.
Lance joined an overwhelming majority in the House in opposing the trade adjustment assistance (TAA) bill over concerns about a lack of transparency by the Obama Administration. Lance said will once again oppose the TAA worker-aid program and other bills slated to be considered by the House later this week and needed to move forward with TPP trade pact.