House Democrats Say Pacific-Region Trade Talks Need Transparency

House Democrats Say Pacific-Region Trade Talks Need Transparency
A Chanel SA store inside the Rex Hotel in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Photographer: Justin Mott/Bloomberg

A majority of U.S. House Democrats said talks on a Pacific-region trade agreement the Obama administration is negotiating with eight other nations haven’t been sufficiently open to public and congressional scrutiny.

“We are troubled that important policy decisions are being made without full input from Congress,” lawmakers led by Representatives Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and George Miller of California said in a letter today to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

The complaint, lodged by 132 of the 191 House Democrats, reiterates comments by senators including Ron Wyden of Oregon who have sought more transparency in discussions for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Negotiations resume next week in San Diego to create an agreement among the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The accord would cover issues including small-business access to global markets, agriculture, intellectual-property rights and protections for companies that compete against state-owned enterprises.

It would “create binding policies on future Congresses,” the lawmakers said in their letter. “We request that you provide us and the public with summaries of the proposals offered by the U.S. government.”

Carol Guthrie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, said in an e-mail that she hadn’t yet seen the letter and didn’t have an immediate comment.

The partnership is one of Obama’s top trade priorities, and administration officials have said they are working expeditiously to conclude the talks.

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