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Ask The Ambassador: ACTA Text

This week, James from Virginia asks Ambassador Kirk about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations.

"If the United States government gives all other governments in the ACTA negotiation a copy of a text, what is the rationale for keeping this a secret from the American public? Why would a negotiation at ACTA be less transparent than negotiations at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or the World Trade Organization (WTO)?"

Ambassador Kirk responds:

"In the case of the ACTA negotiations, the ACTA participants have agreed to the release of certain information, and the United States has released that information. You can find the text here.

At the beginning of the negotiations on ACTA, the United States and the other participants agreed on what types of information would not be disclosed without the permission of all participants.

As is customary during negotiations among representatives of sovereign states, the negotiators agreed that they would not disclose proposals or negotiating texts to the public at large, particularly at earlier stages of the negotiation. This is done to allow participants to exchange views in confidence, facilitating the negotiation and compromise that are necessary to reach agreement on complex issues.

In the WTO and WIPO setting, the members of those organizations similarly agree to rules related to public disclosure of documents. Where the agreement does not allow for public release of certain documents, the United States does not release them. Where the member states have agreed that certain information can be released, it is released.

The terms for disclosure in these different settings may not be identical, and the United States does not unilaterally decide what types of information can be released in each setting. The key point is that USTR strives to be as open and transparent as possible to the American public, within the bounds of the agreements on disclosure we have reached with our negotiating partners.

We're continuing to consult with trading partners participating in the ACTA negotiations about possible future transparency steps, such as the step of releasing draft agendas which was announced after the last ACTA meeting."

Thank you for continuing our dialogue on trade. Please keep submitting your questions and comments for the Ambassador.