In the midst of the trade war between the United States and China there is an opening up of trade in Asia–the entry into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on December 30, 2018, 60 days after the date of the 6th entrant’s ratification. The members who will begin receiving CPTPP benefits beginning on December 30 are the six ratifying members: Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore. As a result of the efforts of Japan and the other members, the landmark trade deal is taking shape and influencing the global trade landscape. As the trade war tariffs impact investment and push supply chains out of China, the CPTPP will attract trade and provide incentives for the consolidation of supply chains in the member states and the Asia Pacific region.
With the ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) by Mexico, Japan and Singapore, and the expectation that other parties will follow, we anticipate the agreement will enter into force by early next year. Although the CPTPP differs from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) due to the suspension of 22 provisions, most chapters of the new agreement remain untouched. One of those is Chapter 3: Rules of Origin and Origin Procedures.
As we get closer to entry into force, businesses should prepare to take advantage of the reduced tariffs and take steps to prepare for the new origin procedures. Under the CPTPP, the certificate of origin requirements are less onerous, do not require a specific form, require fewer data elements, and allow for self-certification. Many businesses will find this to be good news, and the simplified process is likely to facilitate trade among the eleven parties to the agreement. However, in order to substantiate the claims, businesses should start preparing for the new requirements and put in place procedures, including recordkeeping requirements, to provide sufficient support for preferential duty claims made under the CPTPP.
Self-certification and verification requirements
The rules of origin under the CPTPP differ from the usual origin procedures that are utilized in the Asia Pacific region under the existing ASEAN agreements. For duty preference claims, the ASEAN agreements most often require a government-issued certificate of origin. Under the CPTPP, importers, exporters and producers may “self-certify” or have the importer, exporter or producer sign the certificate of origin.
The 11 parties to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement who remained following the withdrawal of the United States have set March 8th in Chile as the date for signing the successor to that agreement, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“CPTPP”). Once ratified by at least six (6) of the 11 parties, the CPTPP will enter into force. Below is a synopsis of what has changed in the new agreement and an overview of opportunities for businesses operating in the CPTPP area.
Recently, the UK’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox stated that the UK is considering joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“CPTPP” or “CPTPP11“). While this gave rise to excitement among CPTPP proponents, and it is technically feasible, various factors would likely make it unlikely in the short term.
UK Exploring Options Post Brexit
It is good news that the UK is showing interest in joining the CPTPP, even if only because it demonstrates that the CPTPP is alive and well. The idea of the UK joining the CPTPP was floated shortly after the Brexit vote and has been simmering at various levels since. As several commentators have already pointed out, there are no legal restrictions in the trade agreement for adding new members outside of the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s original 12 members (“TPP12“), the CPTPP11, or any other countries.