Credit Where Credit Is Due: USTR Accommodates Stakeholder Presentations
Credit Where Credit Is Due: USTR Accommodates Stakeholder Presentations
Credit Where Credit Is Due: USTR Accommodates Stakeholder Presentations

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    The US Trade Representative (USTR) just recently announced that it
    will accommodate both formal presentations and less structured events
    for stakeholders in the next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
    negotiations. This is a promising step forward for the USTR’s public
    engagement efforts, even though it cannot solve the serious problems
    caused by the lack of transparency in the TPP negotiations.

    Combining the Best of Both Worlds

    The next round of TPP negotiaitons are less than a month from now, and
    the USTR has begun releasing information for stakeholders to engage with negotiators. The USTR plans to host another stakeholder
    event, a la TPP Dallas,
    in which stakeholders can register for a table and speak directly with
    the negotiators who attend the event.

    As we explained after attending a similar event in Dallas last month, there are
    advantages and disadvantages to stakeholder tables events and more
    formal stakeholder presentation forums. Which format works better for
    a particular stakeholder will depend on their resources, their
    familiarity with the negotiators, and the substance of their concerns
    about the TPP.

    In Public Knowledge’s feedback about the event, we suggested that the
    hosting country should hold both a formal presentation forum and a
    less structured tabling event, to better accommodated the various
    needs of different stakeholders. And now it seems the USTR is planning
    to do just that during the San Diego negotiations.

    The USTR’s stakeholder engagement website includes instructions both for registering for a stakeholder tables
    event and for making arrangements to make more formal presentations to
    negotiators. It’s encouraging to see the USTR respond to stakeholder
    feedback so quickly and become more open to accommodating the needs of
    a variety of stakeholders.

    The Elephant in the Room: Transparency

    Of course, it must be said that all of the stakeholder engagement
    events in the world cannot make up for the shocking lack of
    transparency surrounding the substance of the negotiations and the
    TPP’s text. Stakeholder events also cannot truly be effective if the
    negotiators are obviously not interested in hearing from public
    interest groups.

    Transparency is a two-way street,
    and increasing the amount of information flowing from stakeholders to
    the government does not lessen the government’s obligation to provide
    information about its activities and proposals to the public.

    That said, the USTR’s efforts to help stakeholders engage with
    negotiators and make their case before the negotiating countries is
    promising. Public Knowledge will continue to use every available
    opportunity to advocate for balanced copyright provisions in the TPP
    that will benefits consumers and innovative new companies.

    For more information and TPP updates, visit our website