“The trans-Pacific partnership deal is likely to hinge on old-style trade questions such as tariffs and quotas, but the main game is freeing up the flow of data across borders”, writes John Garnaut. These rules are about levelling the playing field at the expense of state firms, reducing the scourge of corruption, and particularly, they are about freeing up the flow of data across borders. But they are not straight forward.


Countries like Indonesia and Korea have had major tussles over the rights of multinationals to keep data wherever they deem it to be cheapest. Among the TPP members, Vietnam and Malaysia have some accommodating they need to do. Trade economist Chris Findlay says that data is the future and is under-appreciated by people who reckon value only resides in something you can feel.

Data works as a remote control from far away. Old manufacturers now market their product online, and instant feedback and rapid delivery have been transformed. The data chapter of TPP will contain two main requirements: positive obligation requiring nations to facilitate open flow of information and stopping countries from forcing business to use computing in-country.

Generally, countries provide fair and equitable treatment to investors. The TPP will update rules that have not been substantially altered since the advent of e-commerce. This is essential for future of open, rules-based order as said by Donald Robertson, partner in international law and arbitration at Freehills. He adds that if you don’t get hidden deals, you don’t have property taken away from you. Then people should have confidence to move forward and invest. The price of being in a free-market is that you play by the rules.