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Detroit News: Dingell seeks transparency in trade deal negotiations

Detroit News

Washington, DC, September 25, 2016 | Melissa Nann Burke

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell wants to make secretive trade negotiations less secret.

Legislation introduced this week by the Dearborn Democrat aims to bring sunshine to the process of negotiating trade deals, in part by requiring the publication of the text online after each round of negotiations, so that interested parties and stakeholders may review it.

“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,” she said.

The bill would require that the U.S. trade representative appoint a transparency officer who is free of conflicts of interest, Dingell said.

Currently, the position of chief transparency officer is held by the trade representative’s general counsel, Timothy Reif.

That is “hardly an unbiased person” to work for transparency, Dingell said. “You don’t put the person in charge of it whose boss is doing the negotiating,” she added.

Trade negotiations have traditionally occurred in secret. U.S. negotiators have said it’s necessary to build trust among the parties negotiating, and that other countries might not put their best proposals on the table if disclosed.

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