Published in New Hampshire Bar News (2/17/2016)
Co-authored by: Robert Cheney
One of the lead negotiators in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) gave a presentation last month at a joint meeting of the NH Bar Association International Law and Corporation, Banking and Business Law sections, held at the Manchester office of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green.
Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Andrew Quinn, of the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), discussed the recently completed TPP negotiations. Quinn has served as the deputy chief US negotiator in a series of TPP negotiations that have taken place over the last five years. TPP signatories, in addition to the US and all from the Pacific Rim, include Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Peru and Chile.
If the TPP is implemented by all 12 signatories, it will be the largest trade agreement adopted since the establishment of the World Trade Organization in 1995, and will raise standards for international trade in a host of areas, ranging from protection of labor rights to guarding against theft of intellectual property, to keeping the Internet free and open.
Quinn said the overarching objective of the agreement is to level the playing field for American businesses, workers, and farmers, and to advance a model for trade “that reflects American economic interests and American values.” According to Quinn, the cornerstone of the TPP is comprehensive market access for all participating countries that is intended to result in significant and numerous reductions to a broad spectrum of existing tariffs, and the promotion of inter-country services trade and investment.
Quinn pointed out that the 12 countries that negotiated the TPP currently account for approximately 40 percent of the world economy. Equally compelling, the USTR projects that by 2030 more than half of the world’s middle class will reside in these 12 countries, presenting potentially dynamic and attractive markets to all TPP participants.
In addition to reducing tariffs and promoting services trade and investment, the TPP agreement establishes some 30 chapters of mutually agreed-upon standards or “rules” addressing a variety of trade-related legal and business issues, such as copyright and other intellectual property and trade secret protections, e-commerce, protection of workers, and the environment, Quinn explained.
Moreover, although currently there are 12 participating countries, the TPP is organized and drafted in such a way that it would be possible to add additional TPP members in the future, and expand the trade benefits, Quinn said. However, new members to the TPP are not likely before the US Congress takes up the TPP – as soon as possible and ideally, later this year – and the entry of any future member would subject to a future Congressional vote.
On Feb. 4, 2016, the TPP was signed in New Zealand by representatives of the 12 member states. The text of the TPP and additional information about its various provisions is available on the USTR website. Also, a recent paper published by the Peterson Institute of International Economics discusses in detail its updated estimates regarding benefits to the US (e.g., an increase in US exports by 2030 up to $357 billion) and impacts on jobs (“[though] not likely to affect overall employment in the United States, it will involve adjustment costs as US workers and capital move from less to more productive firms and industries”).