By Farhad Sethna, Attorney © 2016
Reporting live from the American Bar Association’s International Law Section Fall Meeting, In Tokyo, I want to report on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). This much ballyhooed project, the fruit of three years of negotiations between twelve initial member countries remains stalled at this point.
As background, what is the TPP?
It is a far-ranging trade agreement between twelve nations, covering all aspects of trade, customs, tariffs, anti-dumping provisions, cross-border services, and migrant labor.
Which countries are parties to the TPP?
Pacific Rim nations: U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. According to various reports, these countries account for roughly forty percent of global gross domestic product, thirty percent of global exports and twenty-five percent of global imports. In fact, the allure of the TPP is obvious to other non-party nations too. The Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan don’t want to be left out, and all want to join the party!
However, the only the only ratifying member so far is New Zealand, which is also the “depository” member. Depository member means that other countries have to file their articles of ratification with New Zealand in order to demonstrate that they are in compliance with the terms of the TPP, and the TPP has been entered into force within the jurisdictions of these individual member nations.
China is floating its own “competitor” of sorts to the TPP, called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Nevertheless, the TPP, which has a wide ranging scope of issues remains potentially the largest trade agreement on the planet after than the WTO. The WTO however, is fraught with its own series of challenges including, in the words of one speaker “being a United Nations”, meaning that everything is talked about, and nothing is done.
Interestingly enough, for my practice, trans border employee migration is a key focus. In discussing with panelists and speakers on this issue, it becomes evident that without the TPP in place, trans border migration is very hard. Nations that are members to this agreement have a wide ranging series of regulations regarding worker migration. They range from Korea, which appears to be the most reasonable and rational, to Indonesia, which takes internal worker protections very seriously. (See a companion article on this blog addressing emigration to SE Asian nations)
With the US elections looming, and both major party candidates indicating their aversion to international trade agreements generally for populist reasons, it remains to be seen whether the U.S., which accounts for over sixty five percent of the GDP of the twelve TPP nations will even ratify the treaty. If it does not, negotiating the TPP will have been just a very significant drain on the resources of all the putative member nations!
Stay tuned for further developments. For now, from Tokyo, this is your blogger, Farhad Sethna!
About the author: Attorney Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 20 years. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio. He is a frequent speaker at Continuing Legal Education and professional development seminars on various immigration-related topics. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. With offices in Cuyahoga Falls, Akron and New Philadelphia, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases. Our number is: (330)-384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.
This is only general legal information. Please consult a qualified immigration attorney for advice on your specific case.