Ian F. Fergusson, Coordinator Specialist in International Trade and
William H. Cooper Specialist in International Trade and Finance
Remy Jurenas Specialist in Agricultural Policy
Brock R. Williams Analyst in International Trade and Finance
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement
(FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada,
Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. U.S.
negotiators and others describe and envision the TPP as a “comprehensive
and high-standard” FTA, presumably because they hope it will liberalize
trade in nearly all goods and services and include commitments beyond those
currently established in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The broad
outline of an agreement was announced on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial in November 2011 in Honolulu, HI.
If concluded as envisioned, the TPP potentially could eliminate tariff and
non-tariff barriers to trade and investment among the parties and could serve
as a template for a future trade pact among APEC members and potentially
other countries. Congress has a direct interest in the negotiations, both
through influencing U.S. negotiating positions with the executive branch,
and by passing legislation to implement any resulting agreement.
The 16th round of negotiations will take place in Singapore, between March 4
and 13, 2013. Three negotiating rounds are scheduled this year prior to
the October 2013 APEC summit in Indonesia, the current target for reaching
an agreement. For this deadline to be achieved, outstanding negotiating
positions may need to be tabled soon in order for political decisions to be made.
The negotiating dynamic itself is complex: decisions on key market access
issues such as dairy, sugar, and textiles and apparel may be dependent on
the outcome of controversial rules negotiations such as intellectual
property rights or state-owned enterprises.
Canada and Mexico participated for the first time in the 15th round of negotiations in Auckland, New Zealand in December
2012, after joining the talks in June 2012. Japan and the TPP partners are
conducting bilateral consultations on its possible entrance as well. In
addition, Thailand formally expressed its interest in joining the
negotiations during President Obama’s trip to the country in November
The TPP originally grew out of an FTA among Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and
Singapore, which came into force in 2006. Fifteen rounds of negotiations
have occurred since the beginning of formal talks in 2010. In addition to
negotiations on new trade rules among all the parties, the talks include
U.S. market access negotiations—seeking removal of quotas and tariffs on traded products—with
New Zealand, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam as well as market access negotiations
among other parties. The United States has FTAs in force with Chile, Singapore, Australia,
Peru, and with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico,
although new disciplines may be negotiated in the course of the talks covering
issues beyond those in the existing FTAs.
The TPP serves several strategic goals in U.S. trade policy. First, it is the
leading trade policy initiative of the Obama Administration, and is a
manifestation of the Administration’s “pivot” to Asia. It provides both a
new set of trade negotiations following the implementation of the bilateral
FTAs with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea and an alternative venue to the
stalled Doha Development Round of multilateral trade negotiations under
the WTO. If concluded, it may serve to shape the economic architecture of
the Asia-Pacific region by harmonizing existing agreements with U.S. FTA
partners, attracting new participants, and establishing regional rules on new
policy issues facing the global economy—possibly providing impetus to future
multilateral liberalization under the WTO.
Date of Report: January 24, 2013
Number of Pages: 60 Order Number: R42694 Price: $29.95
For email and phone orders, provide a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card
number, expiration date, and name on the card. Indicate whether you want e-mail
or postal delivery. Phone orders are preferred and receive priority processing.