NAFTA nations sign confidentiality agreement to stifle leaks - Macleans.ca
 

NAFTA nations sign confidentiality agreement to stifle leaks

Each government is prevented from distributing texts, emails, proposals and presentations gathered from the other countries


 
In this April 21, 2008 file photo, national flags of the United States, Canada, and Mexico fly in the breeze in New Orleans. Negotiations start Wednesday for an update to the quarter-century-old North American Free Trade Agreement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Judi Bottoni

In this April 21, 2008, file photo, national flags of the United States, Canada and Mexico fly in the breeze in New Orleans. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Judi Bottoni

WASHINGTON – Canada, the United States, and Mexico have entered a confidentiality agreement to protect each other’s offers during NAFTA negotiations, with a list of rules designed to prevent leaks during the talks.

Each government is prevented from distributing texts, emails, proposals and presentations gathered from the other countries.

There are two exceptions: the material can be shared internally with government officials and externally with the stakeholders governments consult on the negotiations. The materials are to be stamped “confidential” and, when not being used, are to be protected in secure locations like locked file cabinets.

The agreement expires four years after negotiations conclude.

The countries can share their own documents with whomever they like, but the agreement forbids them from leaking other countries’ materials.

“The policy underlying this approach is to maintain the confidentiality of documents, while at the same time allowing the negotiating parties to develop their negotiating positions, communicate internally and with each other and engage with their public as they consider appropriate in developing and communicating their own positions,” said the document.

Such non-disclosure agreements are being called standard in trade negotiations.

The agreement was posted online this week by the United States trade representative, after being signed last month by the three countries’ lead negotiators.

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