In this two-part commentary Supply Chain Matters shares some initial impressions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which has reached the stage of preliminary agreement pending the ratification by member nations. In early October, ministers of the 12 TPP countries announced conclusion of their negotiations regarding trade among what is estimated to represent 40 percent of current global GDP, which is rather significant, especially from a global supply chain context.
In our Part One posting, we shared perspectives on the defining features and summary descriptions of Sections 2, 3 and 4 of TPP.
We continue with pointing out some other important sections for the education of our cross-industry supply chain reading audience.
Section 14- Electronic Commerce
This chapter prohibits the imposition of customs duties on electronic transmissions and prevents TPP parties from favoring national producers of suppliers. TPP members agree to adopt and maintain consumer protection laws related to fraudulent and deceptive online related commercial activities and ensure that consumer protections can be enforced in TPP electronic messaging. To promote more online focused trading network activity, the agreement calls for promoting paperless trading between businesses and governments including electronic customs forms, electronic authentication and signatures for commercial transactions. The parties agree not to require that TPP companies build separate data centers in store data as a condition for operating in a member country, and that source code of software is not required to be transferred or accessed.
This area will surely aide in measures to streamline B2C/B2B business process and customer fulfillment networks. We also view this as potentially removing barriers to facilitating electronic supply chain control tower capabilities spanning both planning and execution visibility and decision-making needs.
Section 18- Intellectual Property Protections
Consistently, one of the more important concerns for firms and their respective value-chains is IP protection. This chapter of TPP is described as making it easier for businesses to search, register and protect IP rights in new markets. It establishes standards based on WTO’s TRIPS Agreement and international best practices. For trademarks, it provides protections of brand names and other signs that businesses and individuals use to distinguish their products in the market.
This section further contains pharmaceutical-related IP provisions that address both innovative medicines and availability of generic medicines.
Section 19- Labor
All TPP parties are noted as International Labor Organization (ILO) members and thus recognize the importance of promoting internationally recognized labor rights. Rights are noted as the right to collective bargaining, elimination of forced labor, abolition of child labor and elimination of discrimination in employment, among other tenets.
There are further acknowledgements to have common laws related to governing minimum wages, hours of work and occupational safety and health. This section will have special meaning to high tech and consumer electronics, high direct labor focused, and general lower-cost focused contract manufacturing focused value-chains.
Section 20- Environment
TPP parties are to share a strong commitment to protecting and conserving the environment and to effectively enforce their environmental protection laws. There is specific language related to the protection of fisheries, endangered species, water and wetlands and marine environment. The parties are to commit to cooperate to address matters of joint or common interest, including areas of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity along with transition to lower emissions and resilient economies.
Section 24- Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
A special chapter promoting a shared interest for small-and-medium-sized businesses sharing in the benefits of TPP. It includes commitments from TPP members to create user-friendly business practices, provide assistance in accessing new markets and in overall training.
Section 26- Transparency and Anti-Corruption
A rather important section for strengthening good governance and addressing the effects of bribery and corruption practices. It calls for laws, regulations and administrative rulings be publicly available along with consistent enforcement of anticorruption laws and regulations. The section covers areas for both corporate and public officials.
Obviously there is much more to TPP, more than we can cover in a couple of blog posts. Ratification is expected to occur in 2016 as legislators of individual member countries vote approval. We can’t help to speculate that this effort may take-up most of 2016, given the far reaching aspects of TPP.
As we noted in our initial commentary, certain influential nations such as China are not a current member of TPP. That country, instead, is now actively promoting the Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific (FTAAP) as a further alternative. This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping stated: “With various new regional free-trade arrangements cropping-up, there have been worries about the potential of fragmentation. We therefore need to accelerate the realization of FTAAP and take regional integration forward.”
With a significant global and supply chain influencer such as China, representing the other significant portion of global growth, promoting yet another or alternative trans-Pacific focused trade pact, TPP can either be ratified, compelling other nations to join in its tenets, or could be fragmented by conflicting standards.
Industry supply chains are obviously important stakeholders in these major trade pacts and it will be important to keep up to date on these trade developments along with their implications on easier access to new markets, more leveraged use of technology and impacts to existing business practices.
Supply Chain Matters will do our part to keep readers informed of important developments.