Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Reached

October 7, 2015

pic-export-shipAfter nearly eight years of negotiations, on Oct. 5, the U.S. along with 12 other Pacific Rim nations—Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam—announced the conclusion of their talk and a final agreement on the largest regional trade pact in decades.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) covers approximately 40 percent of the global economy and will create a new Pacific economic bloc with reduced trade barriers relating to the flow of everything from beef and dairy products to textiles and data as well as new standards and rules for investment, the environment and labor. According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), 80 percent of those nations’ exports to the U.S. are already duty-free, while American products face assorted barriers in these Asian-Pacific countries. This partnership eventually will end more than 18,000 tariffs that the participating countries have placed on U.S. exports.

Although its full 30-chapter text will not be available for likely another month, these chapters cover trade and trade-related issues, beginning with trade in goods and continuing through customs and trade facilitation; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; technical barriers to trade; trade remedies; investment; services; electronic commerce; government procurement; intellectual property; labor; environment; ‘horizontal’ chapters meant to ensure that TPP fulfils its potential for development, competitiveness, and inclusiveness; dispute settlement, exceptions, and institutional provisions.

NSBA and its international trade arm—the Small Business Exporters Association (SBEA)—are particularly pleased that for the first time in a trade agreement there are provisions to help small businesses without the resources of large corporations to deal with trade barriers and red tape. We are also pleased there will be a creation of a Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises Committee to assist smaller companies that will meet regularly to review how well the TPP is serving small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The text itself must still be finalized and then each country will have its own process before signing onto it. In the U.S., under terms of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill Congress passed this summer, the agreement must be made public for at least 90 days–making it a 2016 issue–before it can be signed. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Forman has said his staff would be briefing lawmakers on the details in coming days and talking to congressional leaders “to determine what is the best pathway” for consideration of the agreement. TPA also allows Congress only an up or down vote on the agreement, with no amendments.

To read the NSBA/SBEA statement upon the conclusion of the TPP talks, please click here.