Content of confidentiality letters
29 November 2011 by Mark Sinclair

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.
TPP参加国は書簡の交換によってこのことを正式に合意している。NZは原P4協定の文書保管国(depository)として、書簡の交換を調整する立場にある。添付したものは、この書簡のひな形(model version)である(※4)。
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.

Model version
As depository for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, we have been asked to advise participants of important points regarding the handling of the documents we exchange during these negotiations and seek confirmation that you agree with this approach.
First, all participants agree that the negotiating texts, proposals of each Government, accompanying explanatory material, emails related to the substance of the negotiations, and other information exchanged in the context of the negotiations, is provided and will be held in confidence, unless each participant involved in a communication subsequently agrees to its release. This means that the documents may be provided only to (1) government officials or (2) persons outside government who participate in that government’s domestic consultation process and who have a need to review or be advised of the information in these documents. Anyone given access to the documents will be alerted that they cannot share the documents with people not authorized to see them. All participants plan to hold these documents in confidence for four years after entry into force of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, or if no agreement enters into force, for four years after the last round of negotiations.
Second, while the negotiating documents are confidential, each participant may mail, e-mail, fax, or discuss these documents over unsecured lines with the groups of people mentioned above (i.e., government officials and persons who participate in the domestic consultation process). The participants may also store these documents in a locked file cabinet or within a secured building; that is, the documents do not need to be stored in safes. Each participant can also create and store these documents on unclassified computer systems.
Lastly, the participants will mark the documents they create in a manner that makes clear that the documents will be held in confidence.



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