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By Isaac Faz, Acting Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
On Sunday, September 9th, USTR hosted stakeholder engagement events at the 14th Round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Leesburg, Virginia. Negotiators from all nine TPP countries took a break from negotiations in order to speak to and hear from the public about a wide range of issues in the agreement. Over 450 stakeholders registered to attend the engagement event – a 49% increase from registration for similar events at the 13th Round in San Diego, California in July. From 11 am – 2 pm, stakeholders were able to speak directly with delegates from all TPP countries and deliver presentations on a topic of interest.
The registered stakeholders represented more than 200 organizations; more than 90 organizations registered for a table to display reports, blogs, studies and promotional materials at the "direct engagement" event. The Leesburg round of direct engagement participants increased by 75% from San Diego and included first-time attendees Third Way, Precision Tune Auto Care and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce . This event also included past participants such as the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Public Knowledge, and Google, among many others.
Stakeholders were also able to supplement their direct one-on-one table engagement through lecture-style presentations. The presentations allow stakeholders to choose a topic of interest and present to interested TPP delegates. This portion of the stakeholder event saw an 81% jump in participation from San Diego, and all who registered for presentations were accommodated. The interest was high and space was limited, but the presenters definitely had full audiences in each of the four rooms allocated for presentations. USTR was pleased to be able to expand the allotted presentation times slightly in light of cancellations by a few of the many registered presenters.
To conclude the day, TPP Chief negotiators (excepting Brunei, whose chief was still en route to the talks) led a ninety minute stakeholder briefing and participated in a question and answer session. Over 150 stakeholders attended the briefing and asked questions on topics ranging from intellectual property issues, investor-state disputes, labor and the environment. The Trans-Pacific Partnership round in Leesburg will end on September 15th.