TACD has responded to the US Trade Representative (USTR) proposal for a new public interest trade advisory committee, which would provide input to trade negotiations such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The new committee would include members from consumer protection, international development and public health organizations.

“TACD haEd Mierzwinskis been asking for more consumer input to these trade talks for some time, and we appreciate that USTR has recognized this need. At present the USTR has more than 600 industry advisors, all of whom have access to classified negotiating texts, but only one advisor affiliated with a consumer group. Today’s announcement at least is an implicit acknowledgement of this imbalance,” said Ed Mierzwinski of US Public Interest Research Group and TACD’s US Chair.

“TACD remains concerned however that negotiations on trade agreements, which can affect everything from the safety of imported fish to health warnings on cigarette packages, from auto safety rules to the soundness of our banking system, are still being conducted in secret, with only a small group of USTR advisors having access to negotiating texts. We believe that draft trade agreements, like bills in Congress, should be fully available to the general public,” Mierzwinski stated.

TACD has also asked USTR to clarify when and how members of an advisory committee can consult their organization about trade proposals. “At present, because negotiating text is classified, it is difficult for USTR advisors to know that they can discuss with their organizations. We urge USTR to indicate in writing what can and cannot be discussed with whom. Otherwise representatives cannot actually represent the public interest,” Mierzwinski said.