Agreement has been reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), notwithstanding the failure by trade ministers to reach agreement last time they met in July.
However, the negotiating members must take further steps before the TPP will come into effect.
Translation, signing, ratification
The text of the TPP will first need to be translated into authentic (authoritative) languages.
After the authentic texts have been released, each member of the TPP will need to express its consent to be bound by the treaty. The TPP will stipulate the means by which states can express their consent to be bound.
Typically, consent is expressed by a state's signature and subsequent ratification of the international treaty. When a state signs a treaty, the signatory agrees to comply with the treaty and to refrain from taking any actions that would defeat the objects and purposes of the treaty. However, the mere act of signing does not impose legal obligations on the state. A state only becomes bound by a treaty once it has ratified it.
The critical act that needs to occur is therefore ratification. This is usually done by an exchange of the necessary legal instruments or the deposit of such instruments to a designated authority. Whilst ratification is an international act, there are typically domestic requirements for the approval to ratify.
The ratification process in each state
Each of the 12 member states of the TPP has a different domestic process for ratification. The table below summarizes the typical processes.
It is not possible to forecast exactly how long these processes may take (possibly several months), even though some states have specific timeframes for completing them.
The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only and may not be current as at the date of accessing this publication. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.
© Herbert Smith Freehills 2020