Obama expects to complete AsPac trade deal this year

Washington, Sep 17 (IANS) US President Barack Obama said that he is confident of sealing a trade deal with 11 other countries in the Asia-Pacific this year.

“The trade ministers should be meeting again sometime in the next several weeks. They have the opportunity to close the deal,” Xinhua quoted Obama as saying on Wednesday, referring to the next round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ministerial meeting.

In the last round of talks in July, trade ministers from 12 Pacific Rim countries failed to reach a final deal with key obstacles remaining in the areas of market access and intellectual property.

“Most chapters have been completed at this point,” Obama said, adding: “I am confident that we can get it done, and I believe we can get it done this year.”

The TPP, covering about 40 percent of global economy and believed to be the biggest trade agreement in the world in the past two decades, is central to the Obama administration’s policy of advancing economic engagement in Asia and writing the rules for international trade and investment in the 21st century.

The Obama administration is under pressure to seal a TPP deal and get it passed in Congress as soon as possible, securing the president’s trade legacy before the 2016 US presidential campaign heats up.

The TPP talks involve Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

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