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Dingell Introduces Legislation to Promote Transparency in Trade

U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) today introduced the Promoting Transparency in Trade Act, a bill that would bring more transparency to trade negotiations by requiring the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to publically release the text of ongoing trade negotiations and ensure the position of USTR Transparency Officer is free from conflicts of interest. Dingell introduced the legislation in response to the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade deal the administration negotiated largely in secret without input from Congress or the public.

“The debate over the TPP has made one thing abundantly clear: the American people are tired of trade deals that benefit other countries at the expense of the American worker,” said Dingell. “Our country’s trade negotiations are neither transparent nor accessible, and do not reflect input from Congress or the working men and women we represent. What is most outrageous is that the role of USTR Transparency Officer is currently held by their General Counsel – hardly an unbiased person who would be working in the interests of transparency. This legislation would ensure that future trade negotiations are open to public debate so the American people can see for themselves whether these agreements are good for them and their families, and so Congress can carry out our constitutional responsibility to ensure trade deals promote economic growth and keep jobs in this country.”

The bill would require that USTR appoint a Transparency Officer who does not have, or appear to have, any conflict of interest in ensuring the transparency of the activities of the Office of the Trade Representative. It would also require the USTR to publish text after each round of trade deal negotiations on a public website so all interested parties can see the process unfolding step by step.

In addition to Dingell, the legislation is co-sponsored by Reps. Rick Nolan (MN-08), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Tim Ryan (OH-13), and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09). It is also supported by labor and advocacy groups including the AFL-CIO, UAW,, Union of Concerned Scientists, Public Citizen, and Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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