Media Release: Jane Kelsey, Sunday 16 October 2011
“The secrecy that shrouds the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations just got even more outrageous”, said Professor Jane Kelsey, who monitors the negotiations.
The parties have apparently agreed that all documents except the final text will be kept secret for four years after the agreement comes into force or the negotiations collapse. This reverses the trend in many recent negotiations to release draft texts and related documents. The existence of agreement was only discovered through a cover note to the leaked text of the intellectual property chapter.
New Zealand is the repository for all these documents and the conduit for all requests for the release of information, including this Memorandum of Understanding.
An open letter to Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser from unions, civil liberties, church, public health, development, environmental and trade justice groups has demanded the release of the secrecy document. The Green Party and Mana Movement have both endorsed the call.
The release of the secrecy memorandum was requested during the Chicago round of negotiations in early October. New Zealand lead negotiator Mark Sinclair has asked for responses from the other countries, but there is no guarantee they will agree.
The spotlight will fall on the document during the negotiating round in Lima next week, when letters from many other TPPA negotiating countries are also handed to Sinclair.
“The National-led government has already blocked our petition for a select committee hearing on the implications of this agreement for New Zealand”, said Helen Kelly, President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions.
“We want to see the terms that the government agreed to that stop us from seeing what they have done in our name until it is too late to hold them accountable”.
“The idea that they will keep secret the rules that govern the negotiations shows how obsessive the secrecy surrounding these negotiations has become. It has to stop here”, said Professor Kelsey.