106 Colum. L. Rev. 679 (2006)
New Paper Chase: Public Access to Trade Agreement Negotiating Documents, The; Katt, William J. Jr.

handle is hein.journals/clr106 and id is 725 raw text is: THE NEW PAPER CHASE: PUBLIC ACCESS TO TRADE
William . Katt, Jr.
This Note explores the debate about public access to information-spe-
cifically, documents-related to the ongoing negotiation of international
trade agreements. As regional and multilateral trade agreements such as
NAFTA and the WTO proliferate, various interests that are not party to the
negotiations but are concerned about the orientation and breadth of these
agreements have looked for ways to open up and influence the negotiating
process. Essential to this campaign are the efforts of public advocacy groups
in the United States to gain access to documents exchanged among govern-
ment negotiators while trade negotiations are ongoing. In 2002, several
such groups filed suit in federal court under the Freedom of Information Act,
requesting that the United States Trade Representative be directed to hand
over documents related to ongoing trade negotiations with Chile. This Note
takes account of the legal issues discussed in that case and of the policy issues
more generally at stake in this debate, and offers a legal solution that departs
from current case law and executive branch practice in an effort to better
balance competing concerns.
Secrecy is as indispensable to human beings as fire, and as
greatly feared.
-Sissela Bok, Secrets: On the Ethics of
Concealment and Revelation, 19821
Expansive government-negotiated bilateral and multilateral interna-
tional trade agreements have picked up momentum in recent years,2
prompting concerns about their far-reaching implications and an in-
creased focus upon the processes by which they are negotiated. Calls for
greater openness and public participation in the negotiation of these
agreements have come in many forms and from many corners, particu-
larly in the United States.3 A central-and contentious-component of
1. Sissela Bok, Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation 18 (1982).
2. One can view the launch of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
and the completion of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Uruguay Round in the
mid-1990s as ushering in a new era of unprecedented international collaboration on trade
policy. See Final Act Embodying the Results of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade
Negotiations, Apr. 15, 1994, 1867 U.N.T.S. 14; North American Free Trade Agreement,
U.S.-Can.-Mex., Dec. 17, 1992, 32 I.L.M. 289.
3. See, e.g., Brian J. Schoenborn, Note, Public Participation in Trade Negotiations:
Open Agreements, Openly Arrived At?, 4 Minn. J. Global Trade 103, 104 (1995) (arguing
that U.S. constitutional values demand greater openness); Letter from Ctr. for Int'l Envtl.
Law (CIEL) et al., to Ambassador Robert Zoellick, U.S. Trade Representative (Jan. 13,
2004), available at http://www.ciel.org/Tae/Zoellick_13Jan04.html (on file with the
Columbia Law Review) (requesting specific efforts by Office of the U.S. Trade

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