Lawyers in the Asia-Pacific region and the United States are already gearing up to win new work seen resulting from a new trade agreement announced this week between 12 Pacific-Rim nations.
As Misa Han (@misahan) outlined yesterday in the Australian Financial Review: “Legal and financial advisers said increased deal flow will be the biggest benefit of the [TPP]”. As the agreement is set to further liberalize the signatory nations’ economies in the professional services sector. Well, Han reports, “Herbert Smith Freehills (@HSFlegal) partner Donald Robertson said the major benefit to lawyers will come from advising clients on complex cross-border deals under the TPP.”
What is Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?
As Ian Bremmer (@ianbremmer) outlined in Time shortly after the agreement was announced (but it still requires ratification by each member nation legislature, which is expected to occur). TPP “covers countries representing about 40% of global economic output.” (the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Brunei). Conspicuously absent from the agreement, however, is regional giant China.
Bremmer details how “TPP will reduce tariffs across most goods and services and establish new rules for trade and commerce. Its biggest economic impact will be felt in smaller markets like Vietnam and Malaysia. But it will also provide a critical boost for Japan’s economy.”
The agreement has generated political controversy both in the United States and the Asia-Pacific region. One example of which is a report by Sharon Brettkelly in Radio New Zealand News today where she outlined that: “Critics of new copyright rules under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) say they will cost consumers millions of dollars and stifle the creative industry.” New Zealand’s government counters that argument, saying that “the deal between 12 Asia-Pacific countries would inject at least $2.7 billion a year into New Zealand’s economy by 2030” – as Brettkelly detailed.
Gearing up for new work
In the United States, Mica Nguyen Worthy (@MicaNWorthy), an attorney with Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP (@cshlaw) in Charlotte, North Carolina, published an article today analyzing the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) regime within TPP. And international law firm Dechert LLP also wrote about the deal in the wake of the agreement announcement.
Notably, Ernst & Young’s Michael Ang told Han that: “We expect the TPP to create significant opportunities for our clients to expand into new markets which would open up opportunities for EY to support their expansion more generally”.
With more open markets for their own services as well as expanded opportunities to act for clients in new markets – lawyers are acutely focused on the agreement as a means to generate new work. Expect to see much more attention paid to this agreement by the legal services sector across the Pacific in the months and years ahead.
Dispute resolution will be interesting. I’ll be graduating soon, so Asia could be on the horizon.