WASHINGTON - Trade negotiators said late Friday that after a week of intense talks, they have made considerable progress toward reaching a major trade deal, but have not reached a full and final agreement.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said at a press conference in Hawaii that he is more confident than ever that a deal on the Trans Pacific Partnership is within reach.
He said negotiators will continue their intensive talks to reach a deal.
Negotiations among the 12 nations involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership have been underway for years, and the deal was thought to be close to completion. The TPP could cover 40 percent of the global economy.
The issues are politically sensitive, including efforts to allow more imports of rice to Japan, more imports of sugar to the United States, greater access to Canada's dairy market, and expanding patent protection to a new class of promising drugs for 12 years.
Previous trade agreements focused on cutting tariffs to encourage trade by making it cheaper. TPP supporters say this proposed pact would harmonize rules and laws between trading partners to make it easier to sell goods, and services around the world.
Attorney Tim Brightbill, who litigates trade cases, said a well-constructed deal would be a "big positive" for all the countries involved. He warned, though, that a deal that does too little to help U.S. manufacturing and jobs would not be approved by Congress.
Other nations have other major goals, and their own approval process.
The TPP has sparked demonstrations in some TPP nations and is controversial in the United States. The U.S. Congress saw a related trade issue pass by a narrow margin after a major political squabble.