During the Chicago round in September, TPP negotiators were asked about release of the letters setting out an understanding among TPP countries on the handling of negotiating texts and other documents exchanged in the course of the negotiations.
At the start of the TPP process it was agreed that such papers would be treated in confidence in order to facilitate candid and productive negotiations. This treatment is in line with normal negotiating practice.
We agreed to formalise that understanding in an exchange of letters. New Zealand as the depository for the original P4 agreement coordinated the exchange of letters. Attached is the model version of that letter [PDF 79KB].
Although this letter provides that negotiating documents are not to be publicly released, it is important to note that the TPP governments have collectively made a sustained effort to offer greater transparency in the TPP negotiation. Stakeholder programmes during negotiating rounds have included opportunities for stakeholders to engage with negotiators, to present and exchange views during stakeholder forums, and to hear from chief negotiators at stakeholder briefings.
In addition, each TPP country has domestic arrangements for active consultation and information exchange, which will continue as the negotiation proceeds. In our own case, we have offered good access to stakeholders wishing to discuss or put forward views on specific issues. This TPP Talk column is part of an effort to improve the quality of information that is available to New Zealanders interested in the process and the issues.