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Evaluating the Trans-Pacific Partnership

On February 4, 2016, the Parties to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) signed the Agreement in Auckland, New Zealand, marking the formal conclusion of their negotiations. The TPP is one of the largest and most ambitious trade agreements ever negotiated, setting the parameters for liberalized trade among a dozen countries of the Asia-Pacific region: the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Chile, Peru, Singapore, and Brunei. With the TPP now finalized, the Parties must ratify the Agreement pursuant to their own domestic legal procedures before it can enter into force – a process that will be politically contentious for several of the Parties, and in particular the United States.

The TPP – nearly seven years in the making – is being described by the United States as a so-called "next- generation" trade agreement. As a "next generation" agreement, the United States intends it to serve as a template for future trade negotiations. It builds on the core structure of theWorld Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements and existing US bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), but takesWTO and FTA rules further in a number of key areas, particularly on what the United States considers to be priority issues, such as electronic commerce, intellectual property, and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The completion of the TPP is, therefore, is a critical development in evolution of international trade rules.

With the TPP now pending ratification by the Parties, this report examines the substance and process of the Agreement – how it overlaps with and differs from existing US free trade agreements (FTAs) as well as the WTO Agreements; its broader contextual relevance and implications for future agreements; and the next steps for its ratification and implementation by the Parties.


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