The final version of the TPP was released this morning. After more than a year of renegotiation, the release seems like a bit of an anticlimax—the whole “text” is 9 pages. This does understate the issue, of course, since the entire original agreement is now incorporated by reference. The eleven country members are meeting in Chile on March 8 for signature. TPP11 is now on track to begin later this year. Firms should no longer delay. The benefits on offer are substantial. See our latest booklet on how to prepare. For regular readers of Talking Trade, I’m delighted to report that you already knew what the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) contains.
Digital technologies have the potential to transform business in ASEAN. McKinsey Global Institute has estimated the total impact of technologies such as mobile internet, big data, cloud technology, and the Internet of Things, could unleash up to US$625 billion in annual economic impact in ASEAN by 2030. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) have the greatest potential to benefit from digital adoption given the ability of these technologies to overcome many of the typical barriers faced by MSMEs to exporting and growth, such as building a global business network and promoting their products overseas. However, a new report by the Asia Pacific MSME Trade Coalition (AMTC) warns that if certain key trade-related regulatory issues are not addressed, many MSMEs will not be able to capture this opportunity
These individual pressures have to be balanced with the needs of companies. To effectively scale, firms are increasingly interested in building infrastructure that does not always match geographic boundaries of countries. Citizen data and information of all sorts can be moved across borders and firms generally desire more movement rather than less. Businesses have strong reputational reasons for wanting to protect customer information. Governments, of course, are deeply concerned about protecting the rights of their own citizens and the security of their countries. Officials have to balance the sometimes competing demands of business and consumer privacy or business and national security issues. Toss into this volatile mix rapidly changing technology and a legal structure that moves on a much slower timescale and it becomes clear why rules on managing data flows in Asia has started to fragment.
As Bloomberg reported yesterday, rising trade tensions have made it more imperative than ever that companies remain engaged in crafting sensible trade and regulatory policies. Getting that job done, however, is unusually challenging in Asia. While there are many excellent organizations at different levels in the region—within some individual countries, across ASEAN and within APEC—what has been lacking is an institutional framework to collectively gather business input from Asia as a whole. Hence the need for a new grouping—the Asia Business Trade Association (ABTA). ABTA is a non-profit society, registered out of Singapore, to unite large and small firms from all across Asia in crafting a collective voice for companies on trade and regulatory issues.
The 11 members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) wrapped up the final negotiations on the trade agreement this week in Tokyo. The TPP11 or Comprehensive and Progressive TPP (CPTPP) is set for formal signature on March 8 in Chile. Most businesses will not be prepared. Many firms expected the agreement to fade away. Hence, few have made contingency plans for implementation. Now, the clock is ticking before the agreement takes effect starting in late 2018 or early 2019. Nearly all of TPP11 begins on the very first day (entry into force or EIF), including all market opening for services, investment, most changes in customs procedures, the majority of tariff cuts and more. Most of TPP11 is identical to what was negotiated originally. The majority of the deal remains intact.