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Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership

Wikipedia (November 20 2011)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), also known as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, is a multilateral free trade agreement that aims to further liberalise the economies of the Asia-Pacific region; specifically, Article 1.1.3 notes: “The Parties seek to support the wider liberalisation process in APEC consistent with its goals of free and open trade and investment” {1}. The original agreement between the countries of Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore was signed on June 3 2005, and entered into force on May 28 2006. Six additional countries – Australia, Malaysia, Peru, Japan, United States, and Vietnam – are negotiating to join the group. On the last day of the 2010 APEC summit, November 14, 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 {2}. On the 11th November 2011 the Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, announced negotiations to join {3}.

The TPP 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 Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and Prime Ministers Goh Chok Tong of Singapore and Helen Clark of New Zealand. 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 TPP is not an APEC initiative. However, it is considered as a pathfinder for the proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), an APEC initiative. TPP negotiations have occurred on the sidelines of APEC summits since 2002.

The objective of the original agreement was to eliminate ninety percent of all tariffs between member countries by January 1 2006, and reduce all trade tariffs to zero by the year 2015. It is a comprehensive agreement covering all the main pillars of a free trade agreement, including 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 {4}.

Membership and Accession

The negotiations initially included just three countries (Chile, New Zealand and Singapore), but Brunei subsequently joined the agreement. The original TPP agreement contains an accession clause and affirms the members’ “commitment to encourage the accession to this Agreement by other economies”.

In February 2008 the United States agreed to enter into talks with the P4 members regarding liberalization of trade in financial services {5}. Then, on September 22 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 scheduled for early 2009 {6}. Commenting on the announcement, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark stated, “I think the value to New Zealand of the United States coming into a transpacific agreement as a partner would be of the same value as we would hope to get from a bilateral FTA … It’s very, very big news” {7}.

In November 2008, Australia, Vietnam, and Peru announced that they would also be joining the P4 trade bloc {8} {9}. In October 2010, Malaysia announced that it had also joined the TPP negotiations. {10} Canada, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan have also expressed interest in TPP membership {11} {12} {13} {14} {15}.



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 December 14 2009, new US 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” {16}.

Since that time, six formal rounds of TPP negotiations have been held. The first round took place March 15-19, 2010, in Melbourne, Australia, the second round occurred June 14-18 in San Francisco, USA, a third round took place October 5-8, 2010, in Brunei, a fourth round was held December 6-10, 2010, in Auckland, New Zealand, the fifth round was from February 14-18 in Santiago, Chile, while the sixth round was in Singapore from March 24 to April 01 2011 {17} {18} {19}.

On the November 11 2011, Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, announced Japanese negotiations to join the treaty {20}.

Relations with Potential Members

Canada is an observer in the TPP talks but has not committed to join, purportedly because the United States and New Zealand have specifically blocked it, supposedly due to concerns over Canadian agricultural policy, specifically on dairy {21}. Several pro-business and internationalist Canadian media outlets have raised concerns about this as a missed opportunity. In a feature in the Financial Post former Canadian trade negotiator Peter Clark claimed that the Harper government had been strategically out maneuvered by the Obama administration, Wendy Dobson and Diana Kuzmanovic for The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary argued for the economic necessity of the TPP for Canada {22}. 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 {23}.

Japan is regarded as a potential future member but it would have to open its agricultural market in a way it refused to do in previous trade negotiations such as the Doha round {21}. Japan joined as an observer in the TPP discussions that took place November 13-14 2010, on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Yokohama {24}.

South Korea was officially requested to join the TPP negotiating rounds by the United States after the successful settlement of the US-South Korea FTA {25}. The country already has bilateral trade agreements with other TPP countries, thus making any future multilateral TPP negotiation less complicated.

Controversy over Intellectual Property (IP) provisions

There has been criticism {26} {27} {28} of some provisions relating to the enforcement of patents and copyrights alleged to be present in leaked copies of the US proposal for the agreement:

Overall, the USTR proposal for the TPP intellectual property chapter would: (1) include a number of features that would lock-in as a global norm many controversial features of US law, such as endless copyright terms; (2) create new global norms that are contrary to US legal traditions, such as those proposed to damages for infringement, the enforcement of patents against surgeons and other medical professional, rules concerning patents on biologic medicines, disclosure of information from ISPs, et cetera (we will work on a detailed list); (3) undermine many proposed reforms of the patent and copyright system, such as, for example, proposed legislation to increase access to orphaned copyrighted works by limiting damages for infringement, or statutory exclusions of “non-industrial” patents such as those issued for business methods.

At a public forum on July 06 2011, legal experts in New Zealand presented their concerns that the agreement could undermine law regarding Maori culture, genetic modification, copyright, and remove the subsidised medicine New Zealanders have access to through Pharmac {29}.

Ken Akamatsu, creator of Love Hina and Mahou Sensei Negima!, expressed concern the agreement could decimate the derivative dojinshi (self-published) works prevalent in Japan. Akamatsu argues that the TPP “would destroy derivative dojinshi. 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 {30}. At a NicoNico live seminar titled 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 {31}.


{1} Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement Retrieved 25 July 2011 http://www.sice.oas.org/Trade/CHL_Asia_e/mainAgreemt_e.pdf

{2} “2011年11月の妥結目指す 首脳会議で方針確認  {TPP, heads meeting confirmed the settlement by November 2011.}” (in Japanese). Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Tokyo). 2010-11-14. Retrieved 2010-11-15. http://www.nikkei.com/news/headline/related-article/g=96958A9C93819499E3E6E2E2868DE3E6E3E3E0E2E3E2E2E2E2E2E2E2;bm=96958A9C93819499E3E6E2E3978DE3E6E3E3E0E2E3E2E2E2E2E2E2E2

{3} http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/trade-boost-for-australia-as-japan-agrees-to-free-trade-negotiations/story-fn59nm2j-1226193214788

{4} Full Original Text of Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement

{5} “First step to wider free trade”. New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-02-09.

{6} “Trans-Pacific Partners and United States Launch FTA Negotiations”. Office of the United States Trade Representative. September 22, 2008.

{7} Oliver, Paula. “US trade move big news for NZ: Clark”.

{8} “Australia To Join Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Bloc”. Alibaba.com. Retrieved 2008-12-17.

{9} “The challenges of regional bodies”. Taipei Times. Retrieved 2008-12-17.

{10} “Interest Builds in Pacific trade zone”. Wall Street Journal. 2010-10-07. Retrieved 2010-10-14.

{11} “Tories consider joining Trans-Pacific trade group”. CBC News. November 16 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-02. http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2010/11/16/asia-pacific-trade.html

{12} “Policy Speech by Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the 176th Extraordinary Session of the Diet”. October 01 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-02.

{13} “Speech of President Aquino at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City”. September 23 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-02.

{14] Nishikawa, Yoko (November 13 2010). “South Korea mulling US-led TPP trade initiative: report”. Reuters. Retrieved 2010-11-15.

{15} “Taiwan aims to join Trans-Pacific Partnership: minister”. November 10 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-13.

{16} “Trans-Pacific Partnership Announcement”. Office of the United States Trade Representative. December 14 2009.

{17} “Update on Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations in Brunei Darussalam”. Office of the United States Trade Representative. 7 October 2010. http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/blog/2010/october/update-trans-pacific-partnership-negotiations-brunei-darussa

{18} “Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement Media briefing Monday 6 December”. New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. December 06 2010.

{19} “Australia’s Participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations”. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government.

{20} http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/trade-boost-for-australia-as-japan-agrees-to-free-trade-negotiations/story-fn59nm2j-1226193214788

{21} http://insidetrade.com/Inside-US-Trade/Inside-US-Trade-10/22/2010/tpp-countries-say-canada-not-ready-to-join-talks-press-vietnam-to-decide/menu-id-710.html

{22} http://opinion.financialpost.com/tag/trans-pacific-partnership/

{23} http://www.embassymag.ca/page/view/apec-11-17-2010

{24} “US Government: Japan PM Kan Attended TPP Talks As Observer”. NASDAQ. November 12 2010.

{25} “US requests Korea’s joining of regional FTA”. The Donga-A Ilbo. December 18 2010.

{26} “US Trans-Pacific Partnership proposal leaked”.

{27} Big Pharma Lobbying Intensifies As USTR signals IP proposal deadline Trans-Pacific Partnership Digest, 1 May 2011. Retrieved July 26 2011

{28} “The complete Feb 10, 2011 text of the US proposal for the TPP IPR chapter”.

{29} “TPPA Forum – video of presentations”. Tech Liberty NZ.

{30} Negima’s Akamatsu Warns Against Changing Japan’s Copyright Law Anime News Network, 31 October 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011

{31] Artist K. Hachiya: Copyright Law Changes Would Affect Cosplay Anime News Network, 9 November 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2011

External links:

Text of Original Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement http://www.mfat.govt.nz/downloads/trade-agreement/transpacific/main-agreement.pdf

United States – New Zealand Council – TPP Resources

Letters from Ambassador Kirk announcing President Obama’s intention to enter into TPP negotiations http://www.ustr.gov/webfm_send/1559

Office of the United States Trade Representative TPP Website http://www.ustr.gov/tpp

New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade TPP Website http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Trade-and-Economic-Relations/Trade-Relationships-and-Agreements/Trans-Pacific/index.php

Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry Overview of Trans-Pacific SEP

This page was last modified on 20 November 2011 at 08:08.

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