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Through our trade policy, we are focused on expanding opportunities to export more Made-in-America products, support jobs at home, and create economic growth by opening overseas markets and leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses. As we work to open markets to support more American jobs, an important part of that work is keeping the public, Congress, and a diverse array of stakeholders engaged and informed. We believe that public participation, Congressional input, and an open national debate enhance trade policy.
The Obama Administration has taken unprecedented steps to increase transparency and diversify the voices involved in America’s trade policy. Those steps have resulted in more public dialogue and outreach on trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) than on any other free trade agreements in history. To date, those steps have included:
A MORE ROBUST PUBLIC CONVERSATION
The Administration is working to cast a wide net to draw in the views of the public and to share information at every step of the negotiating process. To that end, for the negotiations currently ongoing, the Administration has:
- Solicited public comments on negotiation aims, priorities and concerns, including through the Federal Register.
- Held public hearings inviting input on the negotiations.
- Organized first-of-a-kind stakeholder events where the negotiations are suspended so that a diverse group of stakeholders can meet with negotiators. These sessions are open to the public and provide a valuable opportunity for U.S. negotiators to hear and respond to critiques and suggestions.
- Shared information on the current status of negotiations through blog posts, trade policy updates, press releases, statements, conference calls with stakeholders and the press, and tweets.
PUTTING OUR OBJECTIVES FRONT AND CENTER
The USTR website includes information – in plain English – that will help the public understand our core objectives and priorities in trade negotiations, including:
- Detailed summaries of negotiation priorities on TPP and T-TIP.
- Fact sheets on key negotiation topics.
- Press conferences following negotiating rounds.
- Recaps of negotiating rounds.
WORKING HAND-IN-HAND WITH CONGRESS, THE PEOPLE’S REPRESENTATIVES
The administration has worked closely with the people’s representatives in Congress as we pursue our ambitious trade agenda. This has included:
- Providing access to the full TPP negotiating texts for any Member of Congress, including for Members to view at their convenience in the Capitol, accompanied by staff members with appropriate security clearance.
- Holding nearly 1,700 Congressional briefings on TPP alone, and many more on T-TIP, TPA, AGOA and other initiatives.
- Providing Members of Congress with plain English summaries of TPP chapters to assist Members in navigating the negotiating text.
- Previewing U.S. proposals with Congressional committees before taking them to the negotiations.
- Working with Congress to update them on the state of the negotiations and get feedback every step of the way.
HEARING FROM MORE DIVERSE INTERESTS
Congress established a system of Advisory Committees to get input from affected industries. The Obama Administration has grown the size and membership of our trade advisory committees to add voices that were initially left out of the process. In doing so we have worked to ensure strong representation from:
- Labor unions,
- Environmental groups,
- Faith organizations,
- Public health and consumer advocates,
- Consumer organizations,
- Local and state officials,
- Farmers, ranchers, small business, and many more diverse interests.
These advisors receive full and equal access to U.S. negotiating proposals and work with our negotiators in an interactive process that includes regular updates on the negotiations, the opportunity to review U.S. proposals before they are tabled, and the chance to provide meaningful input into negotiating proposals and decisions. Over the past year, USTR has been soliciting additional nominations for candidates to further represent labor and non-industry interests, as well as further representatives of agriculture, services, and other sectors of the economy. We welcome additional participants and are open to new ideas on how we can expand input.
We are always looking for new ways to engage the public and to seek views that will help inform and guide our trade policy, and enhancing transparency will remain a priority, consistent with the ability to deliver on our ultimate mission, which is to deliver agreements that achieve the maximum possible benefit for the American people. That’s our focus.