Secrecy, Social Media and Trade Negotiations — The End of Secrecy and Greater Transparency?


     It is clear that trade politics will reemerge after January 1st as a central and divisive domestic issue within the United States, once again. The Congress is going to take up ‘Fast Track’ legislation.  The TPP and TTIP are on the agenda also. Trade issues have become exceedingly politicized crossing party lines. In addition, the issue of traditional diplomatic-style secrecy of trade negotiations does not sit well with elements of civil society and its use of social media. Many are  demanding more transparency.
Transparency during negotiations is becoming more essential in order to allow subsequent adoption of negotiated agreements. Recently a law suit was filed concerning the secrecy of the TPP trade negotiations. This has focused on the apparent attempt to broaden IP rights of U.S. firms at the expense of other groups. 
     These are just some challenges that the Obama administration is facing in its attempt to negotiate new rules and arrangements for the 21st century. To gain support of civil society and the ensure congressional passage transparency is needed. I would suggest that not only do we need new rules to be negotiated but we need also confront developing new means of negotiating them domestically and globally.  These are demands that grow out  both  domestic and an international pressures as we all confront growing cross-border transactions, technological advances and globalization.
…… “Obama Administration Sued Over Secret Trade Negotiations.Washington Post (December 20, 2013).
…… “Obama’s Trade Pacts and Benefits of Globalization.Washington Post (December 18, 2013).
…… “Social Media and Trade Negotiations.” Financial Times (December 18, 2013).

About Stuart Malawer

Distinguished Service Professor of Law & International Trade at George Mason University (Schar School of Public Policy).
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