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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7537
JPY
USD
103.79
GBP
USD
0.6032
CAD
USD
1.0957
INR
USD
60.522

Rates may not be current.