TOKYO, Feb. 23 – The full text of the new agreement under the Trans-Pacific Partnership framework without the United States was released on Feb. 21, but it does not include any preferential provisions to encourage the U.S. to rejoin the pact, which means if the U.S. wishes to be readmitted, it will be treated in the same way as any other country seeking membership.
The new TPP agreement — now officially known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership — is designed in a way that consensus from all 11 members would be required were the U.S. to join the deal as a new member, and some interpret it as an apparent move against the U.S. attempt to rewrite the deal.
Last year, after the U.S. chose to pull out of the pact, the remaining 11 members began negotiating to bring the TPP deal into force. In the ministerial meeting held in May, the members left open the possibility that the U.S. would return to the negotiating table and issued a statement saying they would consider measures to encourage such a move. However, such terms were not included in the finalized version.
Under the new agreement, the 11 members will discuss new membership after the pact comes into effect. If the U.S. is going to rejoin the pact, it will have to negotiate beforehand with member nations which have already completed domestic procedures and gain their support. A source close to the TPP negotiators said even though the U.S. used to be a member, it “will have to get in line with any other countries or regions” wishing to be newly admitted.
The released text also shows that 22 provisions of the original agreement have been suspended, including pharmaceutical data protection which had been strongly pushed by U.S. negotiators. The U.S. is likely to call for lifting of the suspensions when it moves to rejoin the pact, but the text says these provisions will not be implemented until all the 11 countries agree to revise the agreement and pass necessary domestic legislation.
The Article 1 of the new agreement states that if there is any inconsistency between the new agreement and the original TPP deal, the new agreement “shall prevail to the extent of inconsistency” when it comes into force. This means the commitments each member country made with the U.S., such as Japan’s duty-free import quota of 70,000 tons of U.S. rice, are excluded from the new version.
The 11 members are expected to sign the finalized deal on March 8 in Chile, and it would enter into force once six of the 11 members pass corresponding domestic legislation.