What does TPP Actually Cover?

by | Dec 7, 2015 | Articles


What Does TPP Actually Cover?

By: Steve Craven

Today, I want to give you an impression of just how wide-ranging the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement is.You can see the full agreement at go.wh.gov/TPPText and thorough summaries of each chapter at ustr.gov/sites/default/files/TPP-Chapter-Summaries.pdf. But just looking at the chapter titles will give you a good understanding of why the agreement took so long to negotiate:

The chapters are said to add up to about 600 pages of dense prose, which I am still working through. And this list doesn’t include all the annexes that detail the tariff cuts and exceptions filed by each of the twelve countries.

The first eight chapters (national treatment, customs administration, etc.) are traditional subjects for trade agreements. So is #15 on government procurement and the closing chapters (27-30). Most everything else gets into new territory.

Topics such as services and telecommunications began to appear in trade talks in the 1990s. Temporary entry for business persons goes back for years, but in talks about visas, not trade. Electronic commerce has burst on the scene. State-owned enterprises came to the fore with the rise of China as a trade powerhouse

The United States began to insist on including environmental, labor relations and investment issues in trade agreements when Democratic politicians pushed for this early in the first Obama Administration. The renegotiations of the free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama were our first attempts.

We’ll get into some of the weeds in later posts.


Steve Craven advises companies on international business strategies and how to overcome problems encountered in foreign markets. He is a former consultant, American diplomat and a U.S. trade negotiator. He served as a Career Diplomat and Senior Foreign Service Officer, member of the U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce. Mr. Craven also previously served as Chair of the Hawaii Pacific Export Council.

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