[Ip-health] KEI Notes on TTIP 5th Round: How to engage in a dialogue without access to the text?

Claire Cassedy claire.cassedy at keionline.org
Fri May 23 08:24:51 PDT 2014


KEI Notes on TTIP 5th Round: How to engage in a dialogue without access to
the text?

Submitted by Claire Cassedy on 22. May 2014 - 16:47

Wednesday, at the George Mason University Law Campus in Arlington, VA, the
Office of the US Trade Representative hosted an all day Stakeholder Forum
in conjunction with the fifth negotiating round of the Transatlantic Trade
and Investment Partnership. The first part of the day was devoted to
Stakeholder Policy Presentations, with several hours of presentations by a
variety of industry, academics, trade associations, and public interest
groups. The latter part of the day consisted of a briefing by the US Chief
Negotiator Dan Mullaney and the EU Chief Negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero.

Stakeholder Policy Presentations

While there was a wide variety of topics discussed at the event (from ISDS
to automotive regulations to cranberries to labor to used cooking oil), the
USTR organized the rooms roughly by topic, so those most concerned with one
particular area would stay mostly in one room. KEI mostly observed the
presentations in the largely IP related presentation room.

There were many strong presentations on the part of consumer groups during
the day, and a particularly notable presentation was made by Robert
Weissman on behalf of the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue. The
presentation, on the topic of consumer concerns on regulatory convergence,
was perhaps the best attended presentation made by a consumer group during
the day, with the many negotiators from both the EU and US sides in
attendance. In fact, the EU Chief Negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero was in
attendance and offered up a question during the brief Q&A period, "From the
point of view of consumers, do you see value in considering ways in TTP to
facilitate closer cooperation between US and EU regulators?" Weissman
responded that while the TACD is supportive of increased cooperation
between regulators, but were deeply concerned about what form that
cooperation would take in the context of a trade and investment negotiation
where business input and interests were likely more heavily weighted than
those of consumers.

Other lively presentations throughout the day included Amgen's frank
presentation of what their company (as a member of PhRMA) sought to gain
from the Partnership as well as an engaging presentation from the Germany
Pirate Party advocating for increased transparency and the inclusion of
privacy provisions.

A concerning observation from the stakeholder policy presentation section
was the flow of audience members. While there seemed to be more government
negotiators in attendance than from previous stakeholder engagement days
held in the US, the distribution of the negotiators throughout the rooms
was a bit worrisome. As negotiators seemed to be free to attend
presentations they found to be relevant and of interest, there were
significant swells and lulls in numbers of audience members. For example,
while the room for IP presentations was half empty during some consumer
groups' presentations, it swelled to capacity with people standing in the
aisles for Amgen's presentation and presentations on geographic indicators.

TTIP Chief Negotiator Briefing

Both the chief US and EU negotiators made brief statements before opening
up to questions from the audience of stakeholders. The US negotiator, Dan
Mullaney, outlined the topics under discussion during this round of TTIP
negotiations taking place this week. Mullaney stated that the negotiators
were largely addressing tariffs, services, investments, procurement as well
as regulations and standards. EU Negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero talked
about the need for the US and the EU to come together and work closely on
the TTIP, clearly stating that with a successful TTIP the more the US and
the EU can influence how regulations develop internationally.

The session was then opened to audience questions which revealed several
key points regarding the TTIP. A representative from the Communications
Workers of America asked the negotiators if, given the continued calls for
transparency, they would begin to release negotiating texts after each
round. While the negotiators largely echoed the tired responses always
given to requests for draft texts (have posted summaries of negotiating
positions, continually engage with stakeholders, and need 'negotiating
space'), Garcia-Bercero did state that the full agreement text will be
public prior to asking for the European Parliament's approval.
Additionally, though they could not yet provide specific dates, the
negotiators announced that the next round of TTIP negotiations would take
place in Brussels in July.

Concluding Notes

Although the opportunity for stakeholders to present to negotiators in some
manner is appreciated, at the end of the day this sort of an event is
simply a checkbox for USTR to tick in order to say that they have solicited
input from a variety of stakeholders. When really examined, an event such
as this does nothing to increase transparency, and there is no true
engagement occurring. Negotiators can rove between the rooms, showing
preference to some stakeholders' presentations over others' (still giving
unequal time to industry, academics, and nonprofits), and even then
presenters are given only 8 minutes to speak, barely giving them time to
scratch the surface of the complex issues involved in the TTIP.

Furthermore, at the heart of the issue with the stakeholder engagement day
on the TTIP is the fact that negotiating texts are completely secret.
Stakeholders are asked to provide perspectives and input on a text of which
they have not seen one word. Until draft negotiating texts of trade
agreements are released in a routine, timely fashion, stakeholder events
such as the one held Wednesday are just a token gesture intended to quiet
the growing din of critics.

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