Lawmakers Call for More Transparency in Trade Talks
More than 50 members of Congress urged U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in an Aug. 16 letter to modify USTR guidelines on trade negotiations coordination with Congress in the following ways.
- allow all congressional staff members with appropriate security clearances, not just those serving members of the House Ways and Means or Senate Finance committees, to review negotiating proposals and consolidated agreement texts without their members of Congress present
- give advisory committees access to the full negotiating texts or the negotiating positions of other parties and reform the industry trade advisory committee system to include diverse stakeholders with a wider range of views
- give Congress and advisory committees access to all documents related to trade agreement negotiations, which often contain critical information
- require USTR to provide Congress and advisory committees with the text of an agreement before the president notifies Congress of the intent to enter into an agreement
- conduct an independent cost/benefit analysis of publishing U.S. proposals in trade negotiations, as the European Union does
- immediately fill the office of chief transparency officer at USTR with someone whose sole function is to fulfill the position’s statutory responsibilities