Friday, July 6, 2012

Way to Go USTR

Someone here goofed at the planned Independence Day fireworks celebration – and all the fireworks from three barges went off at the same time. It was spectacular, but lasted only 30 seconds.

I was talking to one US negotiator here who also saw the beautiful fiasco. He compared the fireworks display to the end of the TransPacific Partnership negotiations going on here. He suggested that the slow but steady pace of the TPP negotiations might end the same way – with a lot of nose-to-the-grindstone negotiating leading eventually to a successful and spectacularly colorful and successful ending – all at once.

The word here is that negotiators from the nine-member states of the TPP – the United States, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia – are moving steadily ahead in settling on a lot of the legal language in 22 of the 29 chapters in an eventual final accord. Work on the tougher issues will happen later in the year – and probably after US elections in November and Canada’s and Mexico’s formal entry into the talks in December.

There was another blow-up of sorts here ignited by Washington Trade Daily. About the only interest the US Trade Representative could drum up from the legitimate press was WTD’s entire staff of two, an early arrival and early departure of one reporter from Inside US Trade, a San Diego Examiner local events reporter – really working for a Public Citizen-type anti-TPP group and a local Associated Press reporter. Also invited and credentialed was a so-called "reporter" from Op-Ed News – who turned out to be an anti-TPP blogger, dominating the brief press meeting with the chief US negotiator.

After dominating nearly half of the allocated 30-minutes for a background press briefing with absurd and preplanned questions/statements against the TPP to the assistant USTR, leaving the chief US negotiating sitting dumbfounded all the while, I loudly protested saying that others should have an opportunity to ask questions. I was quickly put down by USTR’s chief press handler saying she was in charge of the press conference, not me. I stormed out in protest – igniting my own set of fireworks.

The long, incorrect and near libelous article published by OpEdNews concluded with "STOP TPP." Legitimate news outlet, USTR?

Another "legitimate" press outlet here credentialed by USTR is Geneva Watch – an operation owned by Dairy Farmers of Canada.

Good show USTR!

Jim Berger

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