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TPP signed: the reactions from Asia

Asia / 07-10-15 / by

As the ink began to dry on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, signed in Atlanta this week, talk in Asia turned to the winners and losers it would create.

Encompassing 40% of global trade, the TPP is viewed as the most significant development in global trade negotiations for a generation and has been hailed by many as “a game changer” after decades of failed World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks. It will remove an estimated 98% of tariffs in a bloc that accounts for about one-third of global trade and has been hailed as “a blueprint for future trade and investment agreements”.

“The academic in me is a bit disappointed as the academic would say you should hit 100%,” Deborah Elms, chair of the Asian Trade Centre tells GTR. “But the reality is that will never happen, so the question is: how far off 100% are you? I think we’re looking at 97% or 98% overall. Even sectors that didn’t get everything they want for the most part got more than they have now.

“The agreement as a whole is definitely a game changing agreement, even with a few gaps – a couple of agricultural items, we allowed more state-owned enterprises [SOEs] to be carved out than we might have expected, but that’s about it. Almost all of the objectives people had early on have been largely met.”

In trade finance terms, the TPP is likely to galvanise the flow of capital around the Pacific Rim. While there were no provisions in the deal to counter perceived currency manipulation, the overall perception of Asia as a predictable and secure place to do business will likely increase, with harmonisation and regulatory consistency increasing in line with transparency in the 12 member states.

Numerous studies have singled out Vietnam as the country likely to enjoy the most benefit from the TPP, coming as it does from the lowest point of economic development of the member states.

“However, this should be a win-win agreement for all parties and every member state will be able to benefit from the agreement. In the final analysis, this is a win for global trade at a time when an impetus for growth is badly needed,” says Eugene Lim, chair of the Asia Pacific commerce practice at law firm Baker & McKenzie

Meanwhile, as Asia Pacific leaders queued up to hail the significance of the breakthrough, Australia’s new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull can arguably be most satisfied with what he has achieved. In a seeming volte face from US negotiators that had previously been opposed to such a move, the tobacco industry was exempt from the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause in the TPP, meaning companies will not be able to sue governments for anti-tobacco legislation.

Protestors in Australia, with its plain packaging regulations, had feared a series of lawsuits under the provision, with the tobacco industry already pursuing the Australian government in the WTO through lawsuits brought by other governments, over loss of earnings.

Furthermore, Australia also managed to curtail intellectual property protection on biologics – a form of medicines – to five years, with the US government keen to extend the IP protection. This, it is hoped, will allow certain patients to access cheaper treatments.

“After the Hawaii talks, the US asked for a compromise of eight years. Australia remained steadfast in defending five years of protection. This was pretty gutsy by Robb and Turnbull,” Dr Matthew Rimmer, an IP expert at the Queensland University of Technology, tells GTR.

“This is why the TPP is not called a ‘free trade agreement’. There are hundreds, even thousands, of special cases where the move to freer terms of trade take place only over a period of years,” Fred Burke, Baker & McKenzie

While the final text is yet to be seen, it’s anticipated that carve outs for certain SOEs will also be made in order to assuage governments in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, while tariffs have been allowed to remain on certain “sensitive” groups, such as rice imports to Japan.

“This is why the TPP is not called a ‘free trade agreement’. There are hundreds, even thousands, of special cases where the move to freer terms of trade take place only over a period of years, or they are subject to strict Rules of Origin (ROO) requirements, or deemed too sensitive to open up to foreign competition. In these and other cases the results fall short of ‘free trade’,” Fred Burke, managing partner at Baker & McKenzie, Vietnam said in an email exchange.

While a general sense of satisfaction permeates through the trade sector, there’s a realisation that in some respects, the real work starts now. Much has been made of the difficulty the US government is likely to face in forcing the deal over the line in Washington DC, but neither is it likely to pass without a whimper in many parts of Asia Pacific. Concerns over the transparency of the negotiations have been felt around the bloc.

“Interestingly, having spoken with members of Vietnam’s National Assembly about this just weeks ago, I found their concerns and objections similar to those being voiced in the US Congress,” Burke says. “They are worried, since they have not seen the text yet and they are hearing all kinds of sensationalist warnings in the media, that the impact will be to hurt household farmers as protective duties on the import of industrialised foreign agricultural products are reduced.”

In Malaysia, with anti-government protests dominating politics, it is unlikely to face an easy passage. Issues around the impact on dominant SOEs will be tough to overcome, while Prime Minister Najib Razak’s promise of a “rigorous debate” in parliament could potential hamper its progress.

“The IP Chapter is loaded in favour of pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology developers,” Matthew Rimmer, Queensland University of Technology

In Australia too there has been a palpable negative swell around the TPP and the various trade agreements the country is negotiating, mainly around transparency, but also on particulars such as the potential impact on healthcare and the deleterious effect on the labour market.

“The IP Chapter is loaded in favour of pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology developers. Médecins Sans Frontières is deeply concerned that the deal will raise the cost of medicines. The Investment Chapter still enables drug companies, food and drink manufacturers, and alcohol vendors to challenge government regulations in foreign investment tribunals. The exceptions for public health under ISDS could be seen as too narrow and limited,” Rimmer says.

While no deadline has been set on formal ratification, it is likely that the TPP contains a mechanism to allow it to pass into effect without the participation of all 12 member states, so long as a certain quota is satisfied.

“You don’t have to have all 12 economies there at the start. The rules have been drafted so you can have probably eight members covering ‘x%’ of global trade, because they want to make sure to have both the US and Japan at the start. But this gives some wriggle room to countries to decide we don’t want to be there at the beginning,” Elms says.

There is also the question of China: the largest trading nation in the world was a conspicuous absentee from negotiations, despite having been invited to join. It is an active participant in talks around an Asean-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP – viewed as many as a regional rival to the TPP), but the lack of stringency over SOEs and currency manipulation have arguably left the door open to China to enter the agreement further down the line.

“There’s a lot of internal reform in China: SOE reform, financial reform, Rmb reform – all of these are to open up the domestic market for more international participation,” Rocky Tung, senior economist at the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce tells GTR. “It’s trying to level the playing field between SOEs and private enterprise. But at this point I don’t think China is ready to engage in such a trade agreement. It’s working towards opening up and at some point there may be more conversations between China and these existing members.”

In certain quarters, there’s optimism that having negotiated this hurdle, TPP may pass for ratification before the US primaries begin in 2016. In most quarters in Asia, however, this is a notion that appears fanciful at best.

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Privacy Policy

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This Privacy Policy outlines the information we may collect about you in relation to your use of our websites, events, related publications and services (“personal data”) and how we may use that personal data. It also outlines the methods by which we and our service providers may (subject to necessary consents) monitor your online behaviour to deliver customised advertisements, marketing materials and other tailored services. This Privacy Policy also tells you how you can verify the accuracy of your personal data and how you can request that we delete or update it.

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Established in 2002 and with offices in London and Singapore, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd is the world’s leading trade and trade finance media company, offering information, news, events and services for companies and individuals involved in global trade.

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The Data Protection Act 1998 described how organisations – including Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd – must collect, handle and store personal information. These rules apply regardless of whether data is stored electronically, on paper or on other materials. To comply with the law, personal information collected must be stored safely, not disclosed unlawfully and used fairly.

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We obtain information about you when you use our website, for example, when you contact us about products and services, when you register for an event, register to receive eNewsletters, subscribe or register for a trial to our GTR magazine/website.

 Types of Personal Data Held and its Use

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On some Sites, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd collects personal data such as your name, job title, department, company, e-mail, phone, work and/or home address, in order to register you for access to certain content, subscriptions and events. In addition, we may also store information including IP address and page analytics, including information regarding what pages are accessed, by whom and when.

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Where, as part of our Site services, we enable you to post information or materials on our Site, we may access and monitor any information which you upload or input, including in any password-protected sections. Subject to any necessary consents, we also monitor and/or record the different Sites you visit and actions taken on those Sites, e.g. content viewed or searched for. If you are a registered user (e.g. a subscriber or taking a trial), when you log on, this places a cookie on your machine. This enables your access to content and services that

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Please see paragraph 5 below for more information on cookies and similar technologies and a link to a page where you can turn them on or off.

3.      Marketing

Some of your personal data collected under paragraphs 1 and 2 above may be used by us to contact you by e-mail, telephone and/or post for sending information or promotional material on our products and/or services and/or those of our other group companies.
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4.      Profiling

We may analyse your personal information to create a profile of your interests and preferences so that we can contact you with information relevant to you.

5.      Cookies and similar technologies

All our Sites use cookies and similar technical tools to collect information about your access to the Site and the services we provide.

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Why do we use cookies?

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  • gather information about the pages on the Site that you visit, and other information about other websites that you visit, so as to place you in a “market segment”. This information is only collected by reference to the IP address that you are using, but does include information about the county and city you are in, together with the name of your internet service provider.

Most web browsers automatically accept cookies but, if you prefer, you can change your browser to prevent that, or to notify you each time a cookie is set. You can also learn more about cookies in general by visiting which includes additional useful information on cookies and how to block cookies using different types of browser. Please note however, that by blocking, deleting or turning off cookies used on the Site you may not be able to take full advantage of the Site.

6.      E-mail tracking

E-mail tracking is a method for monitoring the e-mail delivery to those subscribers who have opted-in to receive marketing e-mails from GTR, including GTR Africa, GTR Asia, GTR Americas, GTR Europe, GTR Mena, GTR eNews, Third party e-mails and GTR Ventures.

Why do we track e-mails?

So that we can better understand our users’ needs, we track responses, subscription behaviour and engagement to our e-mails – for example, to see which links are the most popular in newsletters. They enable us to understand the consumers journey through metrics including open rate, click-through rate, bounces and unsubscribes. Any other purposes for which Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd wishes to use your personal data will be notified to you and your personal data will not be used for any such purpose without obtaining your prior consent.

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To do this, we use pixel GIFs, also known as “pixel tags” – these are small image files that are placed within the body of our e-mail messages. When that image is downloaded from our web servers, the e-mail is recorded as being opened. By using some form of digitally time-stamped record to reveal the exact time and date that an e-mail was received or opened, as well the IP address of the recipient.

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You can give your consent to opt-out of all or any particular uses of your data as indicated above by:

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To turn cookies and similar technologies on and off, see the information in paragraph 5 above. Any questions regarding consents and opt-outs should be sent by e-mail to or by writing to Data Protection Officer at, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd, 4 Hillgate Place, London, SW12 9ER, United Kingdom. Alternatively, you can telephone our London headquarters at +44 (0) 20 8673 9666.

8.      Disclosures

Information collected at one Site may be shared between Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd and other group companies for the purposes listed above.

We may transfer, sell or assign any of the information described in this policy to third parties as a result of a sale, merger, consolidation, change of control, transfer of assets or reorganisation of our business.

9.      Public forums, message boards and blogs

Some of our Sites may have a message board, blogs or other facilities for user generated content available and users can participate in these facilities. Any information that is disclosed in these areas becomes public information and you should always be careful when deciding to disclose your personal information.

10.  Data outside the EEA

Services on the Internet are accessible globally so collection and transmission of personal data is not always limited to one country. Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd may transfer your personal data, for the above-listed purposes to other third parties, which may be located outside the European Economic Area and/or with a different level of personal data protection. However, when conducting transfers, we take all necessary steps to ensure that your data is treated reasonably, securely and in accordance with this Privacy Statement.

Who has access to your information?

Confidentiality and Security of Your Personal Data

We are committed to keeping the data you provide us secure and will take reasonable precautions to protect your personal data from loss, misuse or alteration.

However, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to our Site; any transmission is at your own risk. Once we have received your information, we will use strict procedures and security features described above to try to prevent unauthorised access.

We have implemented information security policies, rules and technical measures to protect the personal data that we have under our control from:

  • unauthorised access
  • improper use or disclosure
  • unauthorised modification
  • unlawful destruction or accidental loss

All our employees, contractors and data processors (i.e. those who process your personal data on our behalf, for the purposes listed above), who have access to, and are associated with the processing of your personal data, are obliged to keep the information confidential and not use it for any other purpose than to carry out the services they are performing for us.


Everyone who works for or with Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd has some responsibility for ensuring data is collected, stored and handled appropriately. Each team handling personal data must ensure that it is handled and processed in line with this policy and data protection principles. However, the following people have key areas of responsibility. The board of directors is ultimately responsible for ensuring that Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd meets its legal obligations.

Name of Data Controller

The Data Controller is Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd. Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd is subject to the UK Data Protection Act 1998 and is registered in the UK with the Information Commissioner`s Office.

How to access, update and erase your personal information

If you wish to know whether we are keeping personal data about you, or if you have an enquiry about our privacy policy or your personal data held by us, in relation to any of the Sites, you can contact the Data Protection Officer via:

  • By writing to this address: Data Protection Officer, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd, 4 Hillgate Place, London, SW12 9ER, UK
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8673 9666
  • E-mail:

Upon request, we will provide you with a readable copy of the personal data which we keep about you. We may require proof of your identity and may charge a small fee (not exceeding the statutory maximum fee that can be charged) to cover administration and postage.

Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd allows you to challenge the data that we hold about you and, where appropriate in accordance with applicable laws, you may have your personal information:

  • erased
  • rectified or amended
  • completed

Disclosing data for other reasons

In certain circumstances, the Data Protection Act allows personal data to be disclosed to law enforcement agencies without the consent of the data subject. Under these circumstances, Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd, will disclose requested data. However, the Data Controller will ensure the request is legitimate, seeking assistance from the board and from the company’s legal advisors where necessary.

Changes to this Privacy Statement

We will occasionally update this Privacy Statement to reflect new legislation or industry practice, group company changes and customer feedback. We encourage you to review this Privacy Statement periodically to be informed of how we are protecting your personal data.

Providing information

Exporta Publishing & Events Ltd aims to ensure that individuals are aware that their data is being processed, and that they understand.

  • How the data is being used
  • How to exercise their rights

To this end, the company has a privacy statement, setting out how data relating to individuals is used by the company. This is available on request and available on the company’s website.

Review of this policy

We keep this Policy under regular review. This Privacy Statement was last updated in April 2018.