Trans-Pacific Partnership

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Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement
Acuerdo Estratégico Trans-Pacífico de Asociación Económica
Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010.
TypeTrade agreement
Drafted3 June 2005[1][2]
Signed18 July 2005[3][4][5]
LocationWellington, New Zealand
Effective28 May 2006 (New Zealand and Singapore); 12 July 2006 (Brunei); 8 November 2006 (Chile)[6]
Condition2 ratifications
Parties4 (Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand)
DepositaryGovernment of New Zealand
LanguagesEnglish and Spanish, in event of conflict English prevails
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Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement
Acuerdo Estratégico Trans-Pacífico de Asociación Económica
Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010.
TypeTrade agreement
Drafted3 June 2005[1][2]
Signed18 July 2005[3][4][5]
LocationWellington, New Zealand
Effective28 May 2006 (New Zealand and Singapore); 12 July 2006 (Brunei); 8 November 2006 (Chile)[6]
Condition2 ratifications
Parties4 (Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand)
DepositaryGovernment of New Zealand
LanguagesEnglish and Spanish, in event of conflict English prevails

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed expansion of the 2005 Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP or P4), a trade agreement[7] among Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore. It seeks to manage trade, promote growth, and regionally integrate the economies of the Asia-Pacific region.[8][9]

Before the US joined the TPP in 2011, the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement was called the TPP and not "TPSEP" or "P4." As early as 2010, before the US formally joined the TPP, the Public Citizen website describes the "P4" as the "TPPA." From Public Citizen website, as accessed December 2, 2010: "The Obama Administration has begun talks with Asian and Latin American nations to enter into the Trans-Pacific Strategic and Economic Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The talks with Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam were originally initiated by the Bush Administration." [10]

Since 2010, negotiations have occurred[11] for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposal for a significantly expanded version of TPSEP. The TPP is a proposed trade agreement under negotiation by (as of August 2013) Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.[12]

The TPP intends to enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs.[13] Global health professionals, internet freedom activists, environmentalists, organized labor, advocacy groups, and elected officials have criticized and protested the negotiations, in large part because of the proceedings' secrecy, the agreement's expansive scope, and controversial clauses in drafts leaked publicly.[14][15][16][17]

Membership and accession[edit]

The negotiations to set up the TPSEP initially included three countries (Chile, New Zealand and Singapore), and Brunei subsequently joined the agreement. The original TPSEP agreement contains an accession clause and affirms the members' "commitment to encourage the accession to this Agreement by other economies".

In January 2008 the United States agreed to enter into talks with the P4 members regarding liberalisation of trade in financial services.[18] Then, on 22 September 2008, US Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab announced that the United States would begin negotiations with the P4 countries to join the TPP, with the first round of talks in early 2009.[19]

In November 2008, Australia, Vietnam, and Peru announced that they would join the P4 trade bloc.[20][21] In October 2010, Malaysia announced that it had also joined the TPP negotiations.[22][23][24]

In June 2012, Canada and Mexico announced that they were joining the TPP negotiations.[25][26][27][28] Mexico's interest in joining was initially met with concern among TPP negotiators about its customs policies.[29]

Two years earlier, Canada became an observer in the TPP talks, and expressed interest in officially joining,[30] but was not committed to join, purportedly because the United States and New Zealand blocked it due to concerns over Canadian agricultural policy (i.e. supply management)—specifically dairy—and intellectual property-rights protection.[29][31] Several pro-business and internationalist Canadian media outlets raised concerns about this as a missed opportunity. In a feature in the Financial Post, former Canadian trade-negotiator Peter Clark claimed that the US Obama Administration had strategically outmaneuvered the Canadian Harper Government. Wendy Dobson and Diana Kuzmanovic for The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, argued for the economic necessity of the TPP to Canada.[32] Embassy warned that Canada's position in APEC could be compromised by being excluded from both the US-oriented TPP and the proposed China-oriented ASEAN +3 trade agreement (or the broader Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia).[23][24][33]

Canada and Mexico formally became TPP negotiating participants in October 2012, following completion of the domestic consultation periods of the other nine members.[34][35][36]

Members and Potential Members[edit]

 BruneiOriginal SignatoryJune 2005
 ChileOriginal SignatoryJune 2005
 New ZealandOriginal SignatoryJune 2005
 SingaporeOriginal SignatoryJune 2005
 United StatesNegotiatingFebruary 2008
 AustraliaNegotiatingNovember 2008
 PeruNegotiatingNovember 2008
 VietnamNegotiatingNovember 2008
 MalaysiaNegotiatingOctober 2010
 MexicoNegotiatingOctober 2012
 Canada[37]NegotiatingOctober 2012
 JapanNegotiatingMarch 2013
 TaiwanAnnounced InterestSeptember 2013
 South KoreaAnnounced InterestNovember 2013

Potential members[edit]

  Currently in negotiations
  Announced interest in joining
  Potential future members

Japan joined as an observer in the TPP discussions 13–14 November 2010, on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Yokohama.[38] Japan declared its intent to join the TPP negotiations on 13 March 2013 in an official announcement by Prime Minister Shinzō Abe on 15 March 2013.[39] The TPP formally invited Japan to enter negotiations in April.[40][41]

South Korea expressed interest in joining in November 2010,[42] and was officially invited to join the TPP negotiating rounds by the United States after the successful conclusion of its bilateral trade agreement with South Korea in late December.[43] The country already has bilateral trade agreements with some TPP members, but areas such as vehicle manufacturing and agriculture would still need to be agreed, thus making any further multilateral TPP negotiation somewhat complicated.[44]

Other countries that have expressed interest in TPP membership include Taiwan,[45] the Philippines,[46] Laos,[47] Colombia,[48] and Indonesia.[49] Cambodia,[50] Bangladesh[51] and India[52] have also been mentioned as possible candidates. Despite initial opposition, China also has some interest in eventually joining the TPP.[53]

On 20 November 2012 during a visit by President of the United States Barack Obama, Thailand's government announced that it wishes to join the Trans-Pacific partnership negotiations. Expecting Thailand to join after the process is finalized for Canada and Mexico, law professor Jane Kelsey said that it "will be in the extraordinary position of having to accept any existing agreed text, sight unseen."[54]


The TPSEP was previously known as the Pacific Three Closer Economic Partnership (P3-CEP), its negotiations launched on the sidelines of the 2002 APEC Leaders' Meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, by Prime Ministers Helen Clark of New Zealand, Goh Chok Tong of Singapore and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos. Brunei first took part as a full negotiating party in the fifth round of talks in April 2005, after which the trade bloc became known as the Pacific-4 (P4). Although all original and negotiating parties are members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the TPSEP and TPP are not APEC initiatives. However, the TPP is considered to be a pathfinder for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), an APEC initiative.

The original agreement was concluded by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore on 3 June 2005,[2] and entered into force on 28 May 2006 for New Zealand and Singapore, 12 July 2006 for Brunei, and 8 November 2006 for Chile.[55] It is a comprehensive agreement, affecting trade in goods, rules of origin, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade in services, intellectual property, government procurement and competition policy. Among other things, it called for reduction by 90 percent of all tariffs between member countries by 1 January 2006, and reduction of all trade tariffs to zero by the year 2015.[9]

On the last day of the 2010 APEC summit, leaders of the nine negotiating countries endorsed the proposal advanced by United States president Barack Obama that set a target for settlement of negotiations by the next APEC summit in November 2011.[56] However, negotiations have continued through 2012 and 2013 and into 2014.


After the inauguration of Barack Obama in January 2009, the anticipated March 2009 negotiations were postponed. However, in his first trip to Asia in November 2009, president Obama reaffirmed the United States' commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and on 14 December 2009, new United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk notified Congress that president Obama planned to enter TPP negotiations "with the objective of shaping a high-standard, broad-based regional pact".[57]

Since that time, 19 formal rounds of TPP negotiations have been held:[58][59]

The majority of United States free trade agreements are implemented as congressional-executive agreements.[60] Unlike treaties, such agreements require a majority of the House and Senate to pass.[60] Under "Trade Promotion Authority" (TPA), established by the Trade Act of 1974, Congress authorizes the President to negotiate "free trade agreements... if they are approved by both houses in a bill enacted into public law and other statutory conditions are met."[60] In early 2012, the Obama administration indicated that a requirement for the conclusion of TPP negotiations is the renewal of "fast track" Trade Promotion Authority.[61] If "fast track" is renewed, then the normal treaty ratification and implementation procedure would be bypassed, and the United States Congress would instead be required to introduce and vote on an administration-authored bill for implementing the TPP with minimal debate and no amendments, with the entire process taking no more than 90 days.[62] The Obama Administration and TPP proponents plan to introduce fast-track legislation and legislation on the TPP following the 2014 elections.[63]

In April 2013 APEC members proposed, along with setting a possible target for settlement of the TPP by the 2013 APEC summit, that World Trade Organisation (WTO) members set a target for settlement of the Doha Round mini-package by the ninth WTO ministerial conference (MC9), also to be held around the same time in Bali.[64]

This call for inclusion and cooperation between the WTO and economic partnership agreements (also termed regional trade agreements) like the TPP comes after the statement by Pierre Lellouche who described the sentiment of the Doha round negotiations; "Although no one wants to say it, we must call a cat a cat...".[65]

A leaked set of draft documents indicates that public concern has had little impact on the negotiations.[66] These documents also indicate there are strong disagreements between the United States and negotiating parties on the issues of intellectual property, agricultural subsidies, and financial services.[67]


Only certain sections of the drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been leaked to the public, and only summaries of other parts. Many of the provisions are modelled on previous trade and deregulation agreements.

Intellectual property provisions[edit]

Some of the provisions relating to the enforcement of patents and copyrights alleged to be present in the US proposal for the agreement have been criticized as being excessively restrictive, providing intellectual property restraints beyond those in the Korea-US trade agreement and Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).[68]

A number of United States Congresspeople,[69] including Senator Bernard Sanders[70] and Representatives Henry Waxman, Sander M. Levin, John Conyers, Jim McDermott,[71] John Lewis, Pete Stark, Charles B. Rangel, Earl Blumenauer, and Lloyd Doggett,[72] have expressed concerns about the effect the TPP requirements would have on access to medicine. In particular, they are concerned that the TPP focuses on protecting intellectual property to the detriment of efforts to provide access to affordable medicine in the developing world, particularly Vietnam, going against the foreign policy goals of the Obama administration and previous administrations.[69] Additionally, they worry that the TPP would not be flexible enough to accommodate existing non-discriminatory drug reimbursement programs and the diverse health systems of member countries.[72]

Opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership say US corporations are hoping to weaken Pharmac's ability to get inexpensive, generic medicines by forcing New Zealand to pay for brand name drugs.[73] Doctors and organisations like Medecins Sans Frontieres have also expressed concern.[74] The New Zealand Government denies the claims, Trade Negotiations Minister Tim Groser saying opponents of the deal are "fools" who are "trying to wreck this agreement".[75]

Ken Akamatsu, creator of Japanese manga series Love Hina and Mahou Sensei Negima!, expressed concern the agreement could decimate the derivative dōjinshi (self-published) works prevalent in Japan. Akamatsu argues that the TPP "would destroy derivative dōjinshi. And as a result, the power of the entire manga industry would also diminish." Kensaku Fukui, a lawyer and a Nihon University professor, expressed concerns that the TPP could allow companies to restrict or stop imports and exports of intellectual property, such as licensed merchandise. For example, IP holders could restrict or stop importers from shipping merchandise such as DVDs and other related goods related to an anime or manga property into one country to protect local distribution of licensed merchandise already in the country via local licensors.[76]

At a NicoNico live seminar called How Would TPP Change the Net and Copyrights? An In-Depth Examination: From Extending Copyright Terms to Changing the Law to Allow Unilateral Enforcement and Statutory Damages, artist Kazuhiko Hachiya warned that cosplay could also fall under the TPP, and such an agreement could give law enforcement officials broad interpretive authority in dictating how people could dress up. Critics also have derided the agreement could also harm Japanese culture, where some segments have developed through parody works.[77]

On November 13, 2013, a complete draft of the treaty's Intellectual Property Rights chapter was published by WikiLeaks.[78][79]

Investor–state arbitration[edit]

Investor-state dispute settlement mechanism is a common provision in international trade treaties, including the TPP, and international investment agreements that grants an investor the right to initiate dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government in their own right under international law. For example, if an investor invests in country "A", which is a member of a trade treaty, but then country A breaches that treaty, then that investor may sue country A's government for the breach.

Critics of the investment protection regime argue that traditional investment treaty standards are incompatible with environmental law, human rights protection, and public welfare regulation, meaning that TPP will be used to force states to lower standards e.g., environmental and workers protection, or be sued for damages.[80] The Australian government's position against investor state dispute settlement has been argued to support the rule of law and national energy security.[81]


Negotiation secrecy[edit]

Critics such as consumer advocacy group Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch have called for more open negotiations for the agreement. In response, Kirk stated that he believes the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has conducted "the most engaged and transparent process as we possibly could," but that "some measure of discretion and confidentiality" are needed "to preserve negotiating strength and to encourage our partners to be willing to put issues on the table they may not otherwise."[29] He dismissed the "tension" as natural and noted that when the Free Trade Area of the Americas drafts were released, negotiators were subsequently unable to reach a final agreement.[29]

On 23 May 2012, United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced S. 3225, proposed legislation that would require the Office of the United States Trade Representative to disclose its TPP documents to all members of Congress.[82] Wyden said the bill clarifies the intent of the 2002 legislation which was supposed to increase Congressional access to information about USTR activity, but which, according to Wyden, is being incorrectly interpreted by the USTR as justification to excessively limit such access.[83] Wyden asserted:

The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations—like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America—are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement. [...] More than two months after receiving the proper security credentials, my staff is still barred from viewing the details of the proposals that USTR is advancing. We hear that the process by which TPP is being negotiated has been a model of transparency. I disagree with that statement.[83]

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and others[17] have criticized the Obama administration's secrecy policies on the Trans-Pacific Pact.[17][84][85]


A poll conducted in December 2012 showed 64 percent of New Zealanders thought trade agreements, such as the TPP, that allow corporations to sue governments should be rejected.[86]


Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz warned that the TPP presented "grave risks" and it "serves the interests of the wealthiest."[17][87] Organized labor in the United States argues that the trade deal would largely benefit big business at the expense of workers in the manufacturing and service industries.[88] The Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research have argued that the TPP could result in further job losses and declining wages.[89][90] Noam Chomsky warns that the TPP is "designed to carry forward the neoliberal project to maximize profit and domination, and to set the working people in the world in competition with one another so as to lower wages to increase insecurity."[91] Senator Bernie Sanders, who opposes fast track, has stated that trade agreements like the TPP "have ended up devastating working families and enriching large corporations."[92]

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman reported "...I’ll be undismayed and even a bit relieved if the T.P.P. just fades away." and "...there isn’t a compelling case for this deal, from either a global or a national point of view. Nor does there seem to be anything like a political consensus in favor, abroad or at home."[93]

Ilana Solomon, Sierra Club director of responsible trade, argues that the TPP "could directly threaten our climate and our environment [including] new rights that would be given to corporations, and new constraints on the fossil fuel industry all have a huge impact on our climate, water, and land."[94] Upon the publication of a complete draft of the Environment Chapter and the corresponding Chairs' Report by Wikileaks in January 2014, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wide Fund for Nature joined with the Sierra Club in criticizing the TPP. Julian Assange described the Environment Chapter as "a toothless public relations exercise with no enforcement mechanism."[95][96]

In December 2013, 151 House Democrats signed a letter written by Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and George Miller (D-Calif.) opposing the fast track trade promotion authority for the TPP. Several House Republicans oppose the measure on the grounds that it empowers the executive branch. In January 2014, House Democrats refused to put forward a co-sponsor for the legislation, hampering the bill's prospects for passage.[97]

The Washington Post's Editorial Board have said that congressional sponsors of legislation to expedite approval of TPP in the U.S. have already included provisions to ensure that all TPP countries meet international labor and environmental standards, and that the U.S. "has been made more productive by broader international competition and more secure by broader international prosperity".[98]

The Australian Public Health Association (PHAA) stated in a media release, on 17 February 2014, in specific relation to the potential impact of the TPP on the health of Australia's population. A policy brief that emerged from a collaboration between academics and non-government organisations (NGOs) was the basis of the media release, as the group continued to undertake a Health Impact Assessment of the trade agreement at the time of the PHA's statement.[99]


On 5 March 2012, a group of TPP protesters disrupted an outside broadcast of 7News Melbourne's 6pm bulletin in Melbourne, Australia's Federation Square venue.[100] In New Zealand, a coalition of people concerned about the TPP formed an protest group called "It's Our Future"[101] that aimed to raise public awareness prior to the Auckland round of negotiations, which occurred from 3 to 12 December 2012.[102] During the Auckland round of negotiations, hundreds of protesters clashed with police outside the conference venue and lit a fire in the streets.[103]

In March 2013 four thousand Japanese farmers held a protest in Tokyo worried that cheap imports could severely damage the local agriculture industry.[104]

Malaysian protesters (lead by Syed Shahril Syed Mohamad) dressed as zombies outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur on 21 February 2014 to protest the impact of the TPP on the price of medicines, including treatment drugs for HIV. The protest group consisted of students, members of the Malaysian AIDS Council, as well as HIV-positive patients, with one patient explaining that, in Malaysian ringgit, he spent between RM500 and RM600 each month on treatment drugs, but this cost would increase to around RM3,000.[105]

On 29 March 2014 fifteen protests took place across New Zealand against the TPP including a demonstration in Auckland of several thousand people.[106] In a press release announcing the decision of the New Zealand Nurses Association's decision to join the protests, its policy analyst stated that the TPP could prevent government decisions beneficial to public health because “if private investors, such as tobacco companies, were affected they could sue the government.” [107]

Relationship with other frameworks[edit]

Along with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the RCEP is a possible pathway to a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, and a contribution to building momentum for global trade reform.Both the RCEP and TPP are ambitious FTAs and will involve complex negotiations as it involves multiple parties and sectors. The TPP and RCEP as mutually-reinforcing parallel tracks for regional integration.[108]

See also[edit]


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