Horizontal Regulatory Coherence Aspects of the TPP

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Book Chapter

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Sturm College of Law


Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Regulatory coherence, Technical Barriers on Trade, International standardization mechanisms, Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Trade treaties


This chapter argues that a close examination of the interaction between the Technical Barriers on Trade and the Regulatory Coherence chapters of the TPP may be subject to criticism along these exact lines. Specifically, the use of international standardization mechanisms in these two chapters may deepen perceptions of distrust and exacerbate both transparency and democratic deficiency concerns. This chapter proceeds in six sections. Section 2 defines key terms of regulatory cooperation, coherence, harmonization, and standardization. By way of background, Section 3 briefly compares the regulatory coherence approach taken in the TPP to those in a sample of existing US FTAs. Section 4 discusses the growing, and largely unexamined, power of international standard-setting organizations and demonstrates how they can impact the content and nature of trade norms in the new generation of trade treaties of the TPP exemplifies. Section 5 provides a detailed analysis of the different mechanisms embedded in the TPP with respect to regulatory coherence, harmonization, and standardization, and uses an example from the cosmetics annex to show how standards might harden into "rules" or "norms." Section 6 concludes with some thoughts on the dangers these rule-hardening processes might pose and suggests a roadmap for meaningful regulatory coherence that addresses such dangers.

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This book chapter was originally published as Phoenix X.F. Cai, Chapter 28 to The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership: Analysis and Commentary 650 (Jorge A. Huerta-Goldman & David A. Gantz eds., Cambridge University Press 2022).

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Cambridge University Press


English (eng)


25 pgs

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