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Mexico Says Pacific Trade Talks Could Conclude by April

In this Friday, Dec.27, 2013 photo, workers manufacture car dash mats at a maquiladora belonging to the TECMA group in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
An ambitious trade pact being negotiated among Pacific Rim nations could be concluded as soon as April, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Friday.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would cover almost 40 percent of the global economy and create a free trade zone reaching from North America to Japan and New Zealand, and the United States is keen to wrap up talks in the coming months.

“My estimate from the start of the year is that we could be closing a deal ... in the first four months of the year,” Guajardo told reporters in Mexico City.

It could even be sooner than April, but would depend on how negotiations developed, the minister said.

The countries in the talks include the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

Guajardo said he was upbeat about the prospects for foreign direct investment (FDI) in Mexico this year, although he forecast it would be lower than 2013, when the total was boosted by Anheuser-Busch InBev's acquisition of brewer Grupo Modelo.

The minister said he hoped the FDI total would be above $22 billion, or higher than 2013 without the Modelo deal.