David Collins

Formal talks on the UK’s accession to the 11-nation Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) began this week after several months of preliminary negotiations. The fast-growing Asia-Pacific region served by the CPTPP promises to eclipse the economic activity of the rest of Europe, if not the world, well into the 21st Century. More than that, the CPTPP may be poised to establish itself as a near-global regime for trade governance in conjunction, or perhaps in competition with the 164 nation World Trade Organization (WTO). Covering matters such as tariff and non-tariff barriers on goods, market access for services, intellectual property and subsidies like the WTO, the CPTPP also has rules on digital trade and investment which the 26-year-old WTO, with all of the problems associated with needing global consensus, does not. Whereas momentum in multilateral trade liberalisation has stalled in recent years with little to no progress on the key issues of agricultural subsidies, fisheries or dispute settlement, interest in the CPTPP is picking up speed. Continue reading