As the future of the proposed Canada – European Union Trade Agreement becomes increasingly uncertain – the EU has been unwilling to compromise on the remaining contentious issues leaving the Canadian government with a deal that offers limited benefits and significant costs – the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is likely to emerge as the government’s new top trade priority.
The TPP has rapidly become of the world’s most significant trade negotiations, with participants that include the United States, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Japan, and Canada. There is a veil of secrecy associated with the TPP, however, as participants are required to sign a confidentiality agreement as a condition of entry into the talks. Despite those efforts, there have been occasional leaks of draft text that indicate the deal could require major changes to Canadian rules on investment, intellectual property, cultural protection, procurement, and agriculture.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes the Canadian government has adopted several measures to guard against leaks by departmental officials. According to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, a November 2012 email to government officials noted that their access to TPP texts was conditioned on “Secret” level clearance, an acknowledgement that all texts are watermarked and can be traced back to the source, and confirmation that no sharing within government is permitted without prior approval.
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Appeared in the Toronto Star on May 4, 2013 as Canada’s Two-Tier Approach to Trade Talks As the future of the proposed Canada – European Union Trade Agreement becomes increasingly uncertain – the EU has been unwilling to compromise on the remaining contentious issues leaving the Canadian government with a […]
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Canada begins formal participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations next week in Auckland, New Zealand. The TPP remains shrouded in secrecy (Peter Clark has published a detailed must-read guide that provides a complete assessment of the talks to date based on leaks and media reports), but it appears that some individuals and organizations may have privileged access to the text or other negotiation information. The Department of Foreign Affairs is creating a secret insider “Consulting Group” that will be granted access to secret and confidential information regarding the negotiations. A source this week provided a copy of the non-disclosure agreement that DFAIT is requiring members of the consulting group to sign, a copy of which is posted below.
The creation of an insider group is reminiscent of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Negotiations, where DFAIT spent months trying to pull together an ACTA insider group, only to drop the plan after the publication of the initial composition of the group (I obtained the information via an Access to Information request).
A TPP insider group raises a host of concerns including questions about who has privileged access, whether civil society groups will also have access and be invited to join, and the extent of behind-the-scenes consultations with industry groups. While DFAIT may seek to justify the creation of an insider group based on the need for expert advice, the lack of transparency with the TPP is now exacerbated by a two-tier approach to TPP information with a select, secret group gaining insider access to information. DFAIT should immediately disclose who has been invited to join the insider group, why it is has established a two-tier approach, and how it intends to ensure that all Canadians have access to the latest TPP developments.
The NDA is posted below: that will be granted access to secret and confidential information regarding the negotiations. A source this week provided a copy of the non-disclosure agreement that DFAIT is requiring members of the consulting group to sign, a copy of which is posted below.
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The Department of Foreign Affairs has launched a public consultation on encryption controls. Comments are due by April 30, 2010.
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International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan's office has responded to NDP MP Charlie Angus' public letter on ACTA. According to the Wire Report, Van Loan says that "ACTA would comply with Canadian law" and that "before acceding to any agreement, our government would need to be fully satisfied that it […]
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