IILJ Working Paper 2019/2 (MegaReg Series)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership as Megaregulation

Benedict Kingsbury, Paul Mertenskötter, Richard B. Stewart, and Thomas Streinz

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) brings into legal effect a new form of inter-governmental economic ordering and regulatory governance on an extended “megaregional” scale. This chapter proposes the concept of “megaregulation” as a way to understand what is distinctive about TPP and about the particular type of governance project which it partly pioneered. Megaregulation as exemplified by TPP is characterized by five features. First, it comprehensively covers commercial flows in goods, services, capital, and data. Second, its broad aim is to create a generalized freedom to operate for large corporations and their affiliates across the set of national markets covered by the treaty. Third, as its method, megaregulation employs regulatory alignment—nudging and shaping both the substance and the processes of national regulatory systems. Fourth, megaregulation involves a large but not universal (like the WTO) scale in volume of covered economic activity and creates significant gravitational pulls and emulatory pressures for third parties. Fifth, megaregulation takes the treaty-institutional form which prescribes detailed rules and empowers some inter-governmental or transnational institutions and the communities of practice spawning around them. TPP’s specific version of megaregulation further advances an ordo- or neo-liberal vision of the state and its relation to markets that deliberately builds out contrasts with China’s party-state economic ordering, thereby giving it lasting geopolitical and geoeconomic relevance.

in Benedict Kingsbury, et al., Megaregulation Contested: Global Economic Ordering After TPP (OUP, 2019)