Senators to U.S. Trade Rep: End Trade Deal Secrecy

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, led a group of senators calling for an end to secret, back-room negotiations on a free trade agreement.

A letter by Sanders signed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) asked the top U.S. trade negotiator to make public details in proposed text of a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and other pending trade deals.

“We remain deeply concerned that representatives of special interests and multinational corporations have broad and deep access to the negotiating texts, while democratically elected officials and their designees do not,” said the letter to United States Trade Representative Michael Froman. “It is simply unacceptable.”

The letter continued: “USTR has afforded over 400 representatives of special interests and corporations the opportunity to develop negotiating objectives and access confidential information that is not available to the general public, or their elected representatives.”

The trade deal would be the largest free trade agreement ever with the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim counties spelling out new regulations covering exports and imports.

Previously, Sanders and other lawmakers pressured Froman on transparency by noting the difference in how trade agreements are handled in Europe, which provides for more access before the deals are finalized.

A copy of this week’s letter is available here: