Labor Implications of TPP

22 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2016 Last revised: 13 May 2016

See all articles by Ronald C. Brown

Ronald C. Brown

University of Hawaii at Manoa - William S. Richardson School of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2016


The Social Dimension Labor Provision of the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) indeed represents the “Next Generation” in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and is possibly a “game changer” in the several Asian countries with TPP-side agreements with the U.S. As one of the few countries in the world that includes labor provisions in FTAs with Asia-Pacific countries, the U.S. in the TPP has built on its past FTA labor provisions and through its side agreements on labor with Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei to advance new and higher labor standards. The significance of the Side Agreements cannot be over-emphasized. As always, the proof is in the actual enforcement and, in the author’s opinion, future scrutiny should be on making enforcement meaningful. In the interim and final analysis, it may well be up to the economists to proclaim a conclusion on its economic impact and its success or failure.

This paper places discussion of the TPP in the context of addressing the growth of FTAs and the limited use of social dimension provisions on labor, particularly with many Asia- Pacific countries, thus highlighting the progressive measures on labor protections undertaken by the TPP and how it fits with emerging developments in the region. This discussion is followed by identifying new research agenda implicated by TPP labor provisions and its side agreements and, providing analyses to the challenges and opportunities they present. Finally, in the conclusion, summaries, suggestions, and challenges to other disciplines will be made.

Suggested Citation

Brown, Ronald C., Labor Implications of TPP (March 1, 2016). Working Paper, East-West Center Workshop on Mega-Regionalism - New Challenges for Trade and Innovation. Available at SSRN: or

Ronald C. Brown (Contact Author)

University of Hawaii at Manoa - William S. Richardson School of Law ( email )

2515 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822-2350
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