Writing at the Worldtradelaw website, Simon Lester draws attention to a painfully ironic contradiction embedded in the leaked Regulatory Coherence chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) regional free-trade agreement which states:
Each Party should ensure that covered regulatory measures are plainly written, clear, concise, well organized and easy to understand, recognizing that some measures address technical issues and that relevant expertise may be needed to understand and apply them.
Lester asks, “…can anyone tell me with a straight face that the Regulatory Coherence chapter itself is ‘plainly written, clear, concise, well organized and easy to understand’?”
In order to put this query to the test, let’s have a look at a paragraph of the preamble to Article X2 of the proposed Regulatory Coherence guidelines:
The Parties recognize that regulatory coherence can be facilitated through domestic mechanisms that increase inter-ministerial consultation and coordination associated with processes for developing regulatory measures of general application. The Parties further recognize that engagement among Parties on regulatory matters can be enhanced through ensuring that information on regulatory measures is centrally collected and widely disseminated. Accordingly, each Party shall endeavor to ensure that it has a process or mechanism to facilitate central coordination and review of certain new regulatory measures (“covered regulatory measures”) at the central level of government, and should consider establishing and maintaining a national coordinating body for this purpose. Each Party should determine the scope of covered regulatory measures on the basis of criteria made available to the public, whether through law, regulation or other measures. Recognizing that each Party may determine the appropriate scope of covered regulatory measures, it should ensure that coverage is significant and not arbitrarily limited in order to avoid application of this Chapter.
Well, there you go. How much more “plainly written, clear, concise and… easy to understand” can one get than that?