Telecommunications Services in the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Will the Mobile Roaming Provisions Benefit Tourists and Traders?

39 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2016

See all articles by Danny Kotlowitz

Danny Kotlowitz

Telstra

Tania Voon

University of Melbourne - Law School

Date Written: August 11, 2016

Abstract

The purported solution to international mobile roaming charges agreed by negotiators of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (‘TPP’) has been hailed as one of the key achievements of the Telecommunications Chapter, and the treaty more broadly, especially within Australia. Apparent market failure in respect of wholesale roaming rates has posed a challenge that Australia and New Zealand, as well as the European Union and other countries, have been grappling with for several years. The TPP solution is said to hold the key to substantial benefits for both individual travellers and businesses in TPP countries through the lowering of roaming rates. Yet a close examination of the detailed roaming provisions in the TPP raises a number of questions about their interpretation, implementation and broader significance. Technological and commercial developments may mean that roaming charges fall and alternatives to roaming become more pervasive and more effective, rendering the TPP provisions superfluous. The complexity of the provisions and ambiguities in their drafting will in any case make it difficult for them to be applied in a consistent way across TPP countries. While the TPP may deliver some improvements to transparency and cooperation, the substantive mechanisms for reciprocal lowering of roaming rates in the agreed treaty text may offer little reason to get excited. Moreover, the allowance for preferential treatment of particular TPP countries or their suppliers might not withstand a legal challenge in the context of a World Trade Organization dispute.

Keywords: FTA, international trade law, services, telecommunications, TPP, WTO

JEL Classification: K33, K23, L96

Suggested Citation

Kotlowitz, Daniel Moshe and Voon, Tania, Telecommunications Services in the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Will the Mobile Roaming Provisions Benefit Tourists and Traders? (August 11, 2016). Melbourne Journal of International Law, Vol. 17, No. 2, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2822325

Daniel Moshe Kotlowitz

Telstra ( email )

L28, 400 George Str
Sydney, NSW 2000
Australia
61285762741 (Phone)

Tania Voon (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

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