New IP treaties in the works will matter for SE Asia

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), (formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before Trump pulled the US out) will come into force in 2019. The 11 state deal includes 4 ASEAN countries Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam as well as 7 other Asia-Pacific countries - Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Peru. With China and Japan that makes this deal over 15% of world trade and CPTPP the third largest free trade area in the world after NAFTA and the EU. Singapore and Vietnam ratified earlier in 2018. Both will need to make legislative amendments (Singapore has already begun that). 

The IP Chapter has the most comprehensive IP standards of any FTA and includes extra jurisdictional provisions on theft of IP by corporations operating abroad. It also has what are known as TRIPS Plus provisions. These include relating to subject matter patentability scope, patent term extensions for regulated products, data exclusivity (esp. for pharma and agrochem products), patent linkages (to regulatory approvals), and more robust enforcement measures (which in general TRIPS has failed to achieve).

Another trade deal is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten ASEAN members and six which have existing FTAs with ASEAN including Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. This will ultimately comprise 40% of world trade so will become the biggest FTA yet. Negotiations are close to a final agreement. 

RCEP has a comprehensive IP chapter and in general is expected to seek to achieve similar standard to the CPTPP in many of the areas described above. The arguments over the extent of patenting, access to medicine made in countries that signed the CCPTPP are now playing out in the remaining countries looking at the RECP.

A major concern is that RCEP is driven by China and countries that are looking at whether to join, such as Thailand, worry that it may threaten their US relations.