The TPP represents the largest 'regional' trade agreement currently under negotiation, though it is not the only one currently in progress — member countries are also involved in the Pacific Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the Pacific Alliance, and agreements with the European Union.1 If Japan and South Korea were to join, as some predict, member countries would represent 40 percent of world GDP and about 27 percent of current world exports.2 It is a demographically and economically diverse group of countries, with GDP per capita at purchasing power parity ranging from US$3,000 in Vietnam to US$60,000 in Singapore. 3
The 29 chapters under the TPP negotiation would liberalize trade and goods and services as well as investment well beyond what has been achieved in other previous trade agreements.4 In addition to tariffs on goods, the agreement would cover services and investment, and traditionally domestic policy areas such as government procurement, intellectual property, agriculture, environmental issues and telecommunications.5 Regulation of patent protection for pharmaceuticals for example, see interests in stronger patent protection balanced against interests in access to more affordable generic pharmaceuticals to manage healthcare costs.6
The TPP is an ambitious agreement whose impact could have even larger influences on the shape of economic interconnectedness over time. It involves a clear effort to expand the international trade rulebook, and it is open-ended with a goal of expanding membership over time.7 If, as expected, the TPP launches further growth to a larger trade agreement with broader coverage through the region, it is expected to increase world trade by 12 percent by 2025. 8 The results could be more significant if the groundwork leads to a renewed investment in the WTO framework.