Insights Government publishes strategic approach to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

The policy paper sets out the UK’s:

  • strategic case for joining the trade agreement;
  • outline approach to the negotiations;
  • government response to the consultation run on CPTPP; and
  • initial economic scoping assessment for CPTPP membership.

In terms of data protection, the document states that the CPTPP contains “cutting-edge provisions which maximise opportunities for digital trade across all sectors…”. Amongst other things, the document states that the provisions facilitate the free flow of data and include provisions to prevent unjustified data localisation requirements, whilst committing all parties to provide a legal framework for the protection of personal data. According to the Government, this will enable the UK to “maintain its high standards of data protection, as set out in the Data Protection Act 2018 and UK GDPR”.

The document also states that the CPTPP’s provisions support the reduction or abolition of business and consumer restrictions relating to accessing CPTPP markets and ensure customs duties are not imposed on electronic transmissions. The CPTPP also promotes a “world-leading eco-system for digital trade that supports businesses of all sizes across the UK”. The Government says that it will ensure that, through accession negotiations with CPTPP, justified scrutiny of software is possible where necessary, including to ensure that the Government maintains its ability to protect users from emerging online harms.

As for telecoms, the Government says that the CPTPP provisions support UK objectives by “promoting regulatory transparency, non-discriminatory treatment and fair access to telecommunications networks and infrastructure, which enable effective market access and competition for UK suppliers operating in the CPTPP member countries”. CPTPP also includes provisions requiring member states to work cooperatively to promote reasonable international roaming rates, securing “greater accessibility and connectivity for UK consumers and businesses across CPTPP member countries”.

As for intellectual property, the document states that the CPTPP “builds on the multilateral IP framework and sets coherent and consistent IP standards and rules across the region, benefitting businesses and consumers. These standards represent a baseline on which parties can build, and the UK’s accession to CPTPP will not limit our ability to seek more ambitious trade agreements with others, including those that are CPTPP members”. The Government says that the UK’s IP regime achieves “an effective balance between rewarding creators and innovation and reflecting wider public interests such as ensuring access to and use of IP on reasonable terms”. The Government says that it will ensure that the terms of UK accession to CPTPP are consistent with the UK’s IP interests. This includes not doing anything which is inconsistent with the UK’s obligations under the European Patent Convention (EPC).

The document also sets out the results of the Government’s consultation on the UK’s potential accession to the CPTPP. It says that the most common theme in relation to digital issues raised in the feedback was data protection and data security measures between the UK and CPTPP. Respondents, in general, supported the prevention of data localisation and enabling cross border data flows.

According to the Government, acceding to the CPTPP would “demonstrate the UK’s commitment to ambitious digital trade provisions which offer meaningful outcomes for UK businesses and consumers”. In terms of data protection in digital trade, the Government says that the CPTPP “supports the UK’s commitment to facilitate the free flow of data whilst ensuring the UK’s high standards of personal data protection are maintained”. The Government says that the UK is “committed to maintaining high standards of protection for personal data, including when it is transferred across borders”. Further, it says that UK data protection standards, as set out in the DPA 2018 and the UK GDPR “will not be lowered as a result of the deal”. To access the policy paper, click here.