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Preparations began for setting up a workshop on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in late 2010. Invitations were sent to active scholars and experts who had been following the negotiations. This group met in February 2011 in Hong Kong, China. When we made a decision to produce a book, our aim was to capture the state of the negotiations, highlighting in particular several actual and emerging roadblocks on various issues, such as the difficulties concerning the TPP’s design and architecture and the sorts of issues which had already become negotiating issues. Gaps in the research of the Hong Kong group were identified at a post-mortem meeting, and further invitations were sent out to a number of other colleagues. In December 2011, the editors met again to review the drafts and to complete the task of making a whole of the individual parts of the project.
In terms of the book’s organization, we have set out the papers according to a temporal framework. Part II deals with precursors and past events, which are an inevitable part of a proper understanding about where we are. Part III is a snapshot of the current negotiating issues: both actual issues and what we consider to be the sorts of things which must matter towards achieving the aim of laying down a twenty-first century template for future high-quality trade deals. Part IV looks to the future and, in particular, carries on the theme of what it means to speak of a high-quality deal.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks attempt to link together at least nine countries in three continents to create a 'high-quality, twenty-first century agreement'. Such an agreement is intended to open markets to competition between the partners more than ever before in sectors ranging from goods and services to investment, and includes rigorous rules in the fields of intellectual property, labour protection and environmental conservation. The TPP also aims to improve regulatory coherence, enhance production supply chains and help boost small and medium-sized enterprises. It could transform relations with regions such as Latin America, paving the way to an eventual Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, or see innovations translated into the global trade regulatory system operating under the WTO. However, given the tensions between strategic and economic concerns, the final deal could still collapse into something closer to a standard, 'twentieth-century' trade agreement.