News / Economy

USTR: Asia-Pacific Trade Talks Enter Final Push for Deal

FILE - U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks during a press conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Aug. 19, 2013. FILE - U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks during a press conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Aug. 19, 2013.
x
FILE - U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks during a press conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Aug. 19, 2013.
FILE - U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman speaks during a press conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Aug. 19, 2013.
Reuters
— The United States and 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific have begun a final push to reach a landmark trade deal this year and hope for significant progress by an October meeting of leaders in Bali, the top U.S. trade official said on Friday.
 
“It's not surprising that at the final stage of negotiation, as we enter the end game, [the most sensitive issues] are left on the agenda,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told reporters on his way back from a meeting in Brunei with his counterparts involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.
 
“But I was impressed by the dedication, the workmanlike attitude of all the delegations and their commitment to work through these issues in order to achieve a comprehensive, ambitious, high-standard 21st-century agreement,” he said.
 
Froman left open the possibility that the agreement might not eliminate all tariffs between the 12 countries, which include the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
 
He said a Japanese offer to eliminate 85 percent of tariffs was “a good initial step ... toward a comprehensive agreement.”
 
Negotiators in Brunei on Friday began their 19th round of talks on the proposed pact following the meeting between Froman and other trade ministers.
 
The United States is under pressure in the talks to eliminate import restrictions on politically-sensitive products like sugar, dairy, footwear and clothing.
 
In exchange, its partners would adopt new rules on digital trade and the operations of state-owned enterprises, and bolster protections for workers and the environment.
 
Froman said the ministers laid out a path for smaller group negotiations leading up to a gathering in Bali in early October, where President Barack Obama will meet with the heads of the other TPP countries.
 
“It'll be a good opportunity for leaders to get together and ... give direction for any remaining issues to their negotiators,” Froman said.
 
Time to Roll Up Sleeves
 
Officials at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a leading business group, said they welcomed the push to finish the TPP talks after more than three years of negotiations.
 
But they warned that the United States should not give ground on priorities like removing barriers to the free flow of digital data across borders, and ensuring that state-owned enterprises operate on a level playing field with private firms, they said.
 
“We just cannot afford to take the easy way out this time,” said Tami Overby, vice president for Asia at the business group. “If the Asia-Pacific is going to live up to the [business] opportunities that we have in front of us, our governments are going to have to roll up their sleeves and do some very hard work.”
 
Froman told reporters the United States had not lowered its hopes for the pact.
 
But he gave few clues how much the Obama administration was willing to dismantle 20th century protections for products like dairy, sugar, footwear and clothing to achieve its goal of negotiating a deal that sets trade rules for this century.
 
Meanwhile, the White House was facing heat this week for a tobacco trade proposal it is making in the TPP talks.
 
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday joined public health advocates in complaining that the proposal was not strong enough to prevent tobacco companies from using the pact to challenge anti-smoking measures in the 12 TPP countries.
 
On the other side, business groups like the U.S. Chamber and the American Farm Bureau Federation said the plan went too far by explicitly stating that nothing in the TPP pact would bar countries from regulating tobacco for public health reasons, instead of relying on a more general protection for regulations that has been used in trade agreements since 1947.
 
Froman said the proposal strikes “the right balance” between trade and public health interests.
 
He said it makes clear that countries have the right to regulate tobacco for public health reasons and would not establish a precedent that could hurt exports of other U.S. agricultural products.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.