Mega-Regional Trade Agreements and Global Environmental Governance: The Case of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Document Type


Publication Date



This article uses the recently negotiated Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) to examine the potential implications of the rise of mega-regional trade agreements (MRTAs) for global environmental governance. Though unlikely to come into force as planned, the TPP represents the state of the art for MRTAs. It was negotiated among a dozen countries with diverse economies and interests that represent over one-quarter of global trade. Its language is likely to provide a reference point for negotiation of future MRTAs. While the environmental provisions of the TPP do not appear strong in their own terms, they offer the prospect of modest environmental benefits by: (1) directly linking trade to numerous environmental concerns, thereby injecting environmental considerations into trade policy; (2) committing member countries to enact, upgrade, and enforce environmental laws; (3) providing dispute settlement mechanisms for situations where countries may not do so; and (4) creating linkages to environmental governance initiatives of non-state actors.


Univ. at Buffalo Sch. of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2016-038