The Challenges and Opportunities of Megaregionals

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The Challenges and Opportunities of Megaregionals

Professor Richard Stewart

Abstract: The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) represent a new international economic regime, megaregionals.  Composed of a small number of regional parties, they set ambitious programs of trade and regulatory cooperation and liberalization and enhanced protection of investment and intellectual property. The main drivers have been economic benefits to the parties and global geopolitical goals. TTIP and TPP can be understood as efforts by the U.S., EU and Japan to address their loss of dominance in established multilateral bodies, resulting from the rise of China and other emerging economies, by leveraging their remaining market and political power to establish regulatory standards and processes that will de facto rule the world. TPP also seeks to set the framework for an ambitious Pacific Free Trade Area that China will be led to join. TTIP and TPP have been denounced by civil society advocates as a power grab by Western multinationals that will gut domestic regulatory and social protections and goals and undermine domestic system of political and legal accountability.  Little attention has been paid to the potential for adverse impact on third countries that are parties to the multilateral regimes that the megaregionals may undermine.

At the same time, TTIP and TPP have promise to promote progressive regulatory administration, including measures to promote transparency and participation in decision making, use of regulatory impact analysis and evidence-based regulation, and tools to break open protectionist arrangements and police rent-seeking. TPP includes certain measures to promote regulatory protection of the environment and labor. Both regimes also propose novel mechanisms for the governance of international regulatory cooperation that have progressive potential.

The details of the legal and other governance mechanisms for TPP and TTIP, including those governing relations between the megaregional regimes and domestic administrative and legal system, will be crucial both to their success in achieving their economic and geopolitical goals and in addressing the equity concerns of civil society and third parties and realizing their progressive potential. These issues are the focus of the Megaregionals Project being launched by the Institute for International Law and Justice and New York University.

Richard B. Stewart is University Professor, John Edward Sexton Professor of Law, and Director of the Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Law at New York University, He is an internationally recognized scholar in environmental law and policy and administrative law and regulation. His current research interests include; global regulation and global administrative law, international and domestic climate change regulatory policy, and nuclear waste regulatory law and policy.

Stewart previously served as Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he led the prosecution of Exxon for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and the U.S. position on the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change. Prior to joining the Justice Department, he taught at the Harvard Law School and Kennedy School of Government for 18 years. He also served as Special Counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee and as a law clerk to Justice Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court.  He was formerly Chairman and currently serves as Advisory Trustee of Environmental Defense Fund. Stewart was a Rhodes Scholar, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Law Institute. A graduate of  Yale, Oxford, and Harvard Law School, he holds honorary degrees from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and the Erasmus University, Rotterdam.