A Legal Analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
Edited by Tania Voon
Chapter 11: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and regulatory coherence
The inclusion of a chapter on regulatory coherence in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) represents a major development in the area of preferential trade agreements (PTAs). The stated regulatory coherence goals of the TPP negotiations are to eliminate unnecessary regulatory barriers and to make the regulatory systems of member countries more compatible and transparent. The regulatory coherence chapter in the TPP will reportedly include mechanisms to achieve greater domestic coordination of regulations, increase transparency and stakeholder engagement, and improve competitiveness and the ability of small and medium businesses to engage in international trade. As we will see, the notion of regulatory coherence has emerged mainly within international networks of governance, especially in the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group and in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Its introduction into an international treaty poses a series of questions without clear answers, the most essential being the definition of regulatory coherence. For some, regulatory coherence means substantive regulatory harmonisation. Others think that it means a harmonisation process by which regulations are developed and adopted. For still others, it means mutual recognition of regulations or indulgences in the application of the law of a country to foreign producers, traders and investors. Until we have a more focused understanding of what we mean by regulatory coherence, it will be difficult to study and measure it as a distinct political phenomenon.
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