On Oct. 5, the United States and eleven Pacific Rim nations (Japan, Vietnam, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Peru, Chile, Singapore, New Zealand and Brunei) concluded negotiations on the most sweeping free trade agreement in U.S. history. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement will eliminate tariffs and revamp Customs rules for trade amongst all 12 TPP countries, with some tariffs eliminated immediately and others phased out over a period as long as 30 years. The Agreement defines how much processing must occur in a TPP country in order for a good to qualify for these tariff reductions, with these “rules of origin” varying by product. Indeed, the TPP Agreement contains 30 chapters covering trade and trade-related issues, beginning with trade in goods and continuing through sanitary and phytosanitary measures for agriculture products; technical barriers to trade; anti-dumping and anti-subsidy rules; investment; services (such as express delivery, financial services, and insurance); e-commerce; government procurement; and intellectual property. In addition to traditional issues covered by previous free trade agreements, the TPP incorporates new and emerging trade issues related to the internet and the digital economy, labor and the participation of state-owned enterprises in international trade and investment.
The TPP agreement will now be sent to Congress, where, under recently passed “Trade Promotion Authority” rules, it can be considered as early as January.