Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

US President-elect Trump has promised to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal as soon as he takes office. Trump has promised to leave the TPP, which took the Obama administration seven years to negotiate, and instead “negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back on to American shores.”

The TPP is an agreement between 12 nations reached in October, 2015. The TPP sets forth a comprehensive trade framework covering goods and services, cross-border investments, intellectual property, the environment and many other topics of critical importance to companies engaged in international trade. The TPP aims to deepen economic ties between the member nations, cut tariffs and foster trade to boost economic growth.

The member nations are the US, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

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The text of the TPP still has to be signed and then ratified by all 12 signatories and then implemented by the individual nations’ legislatures. To take effect, the deal has to be ratified by February 2018 by at least six countries that account for 85% of the group’s economic output. This means that Japan and the US will need to be on board.

Earlier this month the TPP cleared its main hurdle in Japan’s parliament, but approval by the US is much less certain. It is likely that after the transition from President Obama to President-elect Trump, the US will no longer continue to work toward implementing the TPP.

Click here to learn more about the TPP.

Ostensibly, Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in international trade agreements create a necessary judicial mechanism which empowers international investors to bring actions against host states who act arbitrarily, to the detriment of the international investment.  ISDS has, however, long been criticized as a non-transparent, privately run judicial system through which wealthy investment entities can extract substantial judgments from hosts states who change their national policies.

A recent article in the Canadian Bar Association’s National Magazine, traces these these historic tensions in North America and Europe ,as well a growing number of states which are pushing on the use of ISDS after being burned by significant judgments.

As new international trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, are discussed and debated is important that investors understand what recourse they may have when investing abroad and whether the protections they have historically enjoyed will still exists in the coming years and decades.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam), which among other things, contains measures to lower trade barriers such as tariffs.

For more information about the TPP see our previous post, Fox Guide to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Report

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker released the Opportunities for the U.S. Service Sector Report, which highlights the positive impact of the TPP.

Secretary Pritzker’s report emphasized that the TPP will expand investment opportunities for U.S. services, including those in the telecommunications, software, retail, entertainment and delivery.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership strengthens our nation’s standing as the world’s leading services exporter,” Secretary Pritzker said.  She further emphasized the positive impact on the service sector, by stating: “With TPP, we can grow our $233.1 billion trade surplus in services and support even more high-paying American jobs.”

Benefit for U.S. Service Suppliers

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, services industries account for four out of five U.S. jobs and also represent a significant and growing share of jobs in other TPP countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam).  The TPP will benefit U.S. service suppliers, both small and large, seeking to do business in TPP markets.

The report lists TPP commitments that will directly benefit U.S. services suppliers, including removing unnecessary barriers that reduce efficiency of trade in the global supply chain and increased transparency in licensing and qualification regulations and procedures for service suppliers.

To learn more about the opportunities for the U.S. service sector related to the TPP, visit http://trade.gov/fta/tpp/industries/pdfs/service.pdf.

The Story

Asia-Pacific Region
Copyright: kgtoh / 123RF Stock Photo

After many years of negotiations, the 12 countries making up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam) finally reached a trade agreement on October 4, 2015.  Note that the deal still needs to be approved by Congress (after the President gives Congress a 90 day advance notice that he intends to sign it).

Why Does it Matter?

The deal opens up trade and promotes regional integration among 12 countries that collectively produce almost half of the world’s products and services. This can have a huge impact on the global economy.

The goals of the deal are to promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.  Geopolitical reasons of establishing a strong partnership in Asia to challenge China’s stronghold in the region is also certainly a motivating factor.

Key Features Of The Deal

  1. Comprehensive market access. The TPP eliminates or reduces tariff and non-tariff barriers across substantially all trade in goods and services, to create new opportunities and benefits for businesses, workers, and consumers.
  2. Regional approach to commitments. The TPP facilitates the development of production and supply chains, and seamless trade, enhancing efficiency and supporting the goal of creating and supporting jobs, raising living standards, enhancing conservation efforts, and facilitating cross-border integration, as well as opening domestic markets.
  3. Addressing new trade challenges. The TPP promotes innovation, productivity, and competitiveness by addressing new issues, including the development of the digital economy, and the role of state-owned enterprises in the global economy.
  4. Inclusive trade. The TPP includes commitments to help small- and medium-sized businesses understand the Agreement and take advantage of its opportunities.  It also includes commitments on trade capacity building, to ensure that all Parties are able to meet the commitments in the Agreement and take full advantage of its benefits.
  5. Platform for regional integration. The TPP is intended as a platform for regional economic integration and designed to include additional economies across the Asia-Pacific region.

What Does the Deal Mean for US Businesses?

  1. The deal reduces tariffs for American products traded in the TPP region and, therefore, opens up the TPP region for American products. It also makes it cheaper for American companies to purchase products from the TPP region.
  2. Expedited customs procedures for TPP members will ensure faster and easier shipment.
  3. More transparent, non-discriminatory rules for technical regulations will mean easier compliance with trade regulations for US companies.
  4. Investment in TPP countries will become easier and more transparent.
  5. E-commerce companies doing business in the TPP region will encounter fewer restrictions.