The Maine House of Representatives unanimously resolved to demand that President Obama increase transparency and public participation in the increasingly controversial Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) negotiations.
The resolution explains its concerns as arising from the shift of trade agreements away from “traditional trade matters, such as tariffs and quotas,” toward the new dominant focus on minimum legislative standards that “can undermine Maine’s regulatory authority and constitutionally guaranteed authority to protect the public health, safety and welfare.”
The resolution criticizes “a succession of federal trade negotiators from both political parties over the years” which “has failed to operate in a transparent manner and failed to meaningfully consult with states on the far-reaching impact of trade agreements on state and local laws, even when binding the State of Maine to the terms of these agreements.”
“United States trade policy has been formulated and implemented in a process that lacks transparency, fails to properly recognize the principles of state sovereignty.”
Referring apparently to the recent claim of the administration that it will enter ACTA without Congressional consent, as well as its request for fast track trade promotion authority to prevent Congress from amending trade agreements that Congress has the opportunity to review, the resolution notes the lack of “any meaningful opportunity for congressional review and acceptance” in many agreements.
The heart of the resolution calls on the Administration to use the current negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement as an “opportunity for improving the process by which significant foreign trade policy agreements . . . are negotiated.” It therefore resolves:
“RESOLVED: That We, your Memorialists, respectfully urge and request the President of the United States and the Congress of the United States to improve the process by which United States trade agreements are developed and implemented in order to encourage meaningful transparency and appropriately acknowledge the vital role of state sovereignty and afford more meaningful opportunity for congressional review and acceptance.”
The resolution is now headed to the Maine Senate for its approval. Maine is one of a number of states with a trade advisory commission (see map of other states with advisory commissions) and has been an active voice in trade debates in the past.