Washington Notebook: Pacific Rim trade talks bog down
Ministers meeting in Singapore adjourned without finalizing a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, but said they had made significant progress and would meet again next month.
Negotiators had long expressed hope of concluding a Pacific trade deal by the end of the year.
The TPP talks are aimed at opening markets and reducing duties among the participating countries, which include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, and Vietnam.
Among the remaining issues to be resolved are how much protection from foreign competition to allow certain domestic industries in several countries, and how much flexibility to give developing countries in terms of complying with intellectual property rights protections.
Japan has been keen on defending its agriculture and automobile industries, while sugar, dairy, apparel and footwear producers in the United States are pushing the Obama administration to maintain limits on market access.
"At this critical juncture, the National Foreign Trade Council and its members ask all parties to demonstrate leadership in opening markets, refrain from taking defensive positions and to increase ambition rather than seek to limit the scope of commitment," the trade group said.
Business leaders are eager to conclude a deal because U.S. exports to other TPP countries grew 45 percent in 2012, and two-way trade supports almost 15 million jobs. The Pacific Rim nations in the talks account for about 15 percent of global trade.
The conclusion of talks comes on the heel last week of a major agreement on trade facilitation measures under the auspices of the World Trade Organization.
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