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A new article to inform the debate on the future of world economic order from the perspective of CPTPP and CETA

A new article authored by co-director of Herbert Smith Freehills CIBEL Centre, Associate Professor Heng Wang, studied a crucial but yet underexplored question: do Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) converge regarding their approaches? If so, why? This paper will be helpful to inform the participants and the general public in the debate on the future of world economic legal order in the context of the fast-changing dynamics.

“Deep free trade agreements (FTAs) refer to trade pacts that go beyond tariffs and focus on behind-the-border regulatory disciplines or requirements”, the article identified. With a number of deep FTAs enforced recent years, for example, the CPTPP which was signed in March 2018 and the CETA entered into force in September 2017, there is insufficient overall legal analyse of such deep FTAs.

The article, published on the Journal of World Trade, Volume 53, Issue 2 argues that “these FTAs perhaps are not radically different in their approaches and largely converge in two crucial issues: regulatory disciplines and dispute settlement.”

By analysing the deep FTAs, Associate Professor Wang noted down in his paper that the deep FTAs did have differences with each other, but they were not unbridgeable. The overall approaches of these pacts largely converge towards ‘regulation-oriented’, rule-based, and WTO-friendly FTAs with a generally strong enforcement mechanism. The convergence was more observable in some areas like investment and services.

He suggested the reason for such convergence include the deep FTAs shared the same objectives that emphasise regulatory protection and they were both developed from the WTO law. There were also other reasons could explain the convergence, for example, membership overlap and geopolitical considerations, etc.

Associate Professor Wang believed there was a possibility to eventually eliminate the differences between the deep FTAs, the barrier to achieving this was the lack of political willingness.

“Deep FTAs seem to accommodate each other’s differences to a large extent,…, however, political willingness seems to be lacking to facilitate further convergence due to geopolitical and domestic consideration.” Associate Professor Wang pointed out in the paper.

The full article is now on Kluwer Law Online. The full text of unedited version can be freely downloaded at ResearchGate and SSRN. Know more about Associate Prof Wang’s research at Twitter @HengWANG_law, and LinkedIn.