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Eleven Pacific nations move on trade pact with data transfer provisions…without US

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BNA | 27 February 2018

Eleven Pacific nations move on trade pact with data transfer provisions…without US

By George R. Lynch

The 11 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)—steaming ahead in the absence of the U.S.—are retaining all of the digital trade and electronic commerce provisions from the original agreement.

The members Feb. 20 released the final version of the pact, now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement at the beginning of 2017, claiming it would kill jobs and choosing to focus instead on bilateral trade agreements.

The new text changes or suspends about 20 provisions the U.S. urged to be included in the original, such as strengthened intellectual property protections. But it retains a prohibition on data localization rules requiring companies to store data within the borders of a country, demands that countries respect the data transfer laws of other members, and encourages cybersecurity cooperation.

The pact’s remaining 11 members, led by Japan, plan to sign the agreement March 8 in Chile. It would enter into force 60 days after ratification by at least six signatory countries.

U.S. lawmakers had expressed concern during earlier negotiations that the financial services sector was excluded from data localizations rules. The final agreement makes no change to that exclusion.

The release of the finalized text comes as the U.S. and its North American Free Trade Agreement partners, Canada and Mexico, negotiate an update to NAFTA that includes ecommerce provisions similar to those in the TPP.

Meanwhile, the European Union has one-upped other countries by insisting on strong privacy protections in trade agreements, reversing an earlier stance that privacy be negotiated separately from free trade agreements. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, approved new language for incorporation in future trade deals that makes the EU’s fundamental right to privacy a priority.

The 11 CPTPP members are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

 source: BNA