Ministers miss deadline for trade pact this year

Ministers miss deadline for trade pact this year

SINGAPORE - Agence France-Presse
Trade ministers meeting in Singapore said Tuesday that talks on a huge US-led Pacific trade pact will resume in January, missing a deadline to agree a deal this year.

“We have decided to continue our intensive work in the coming weeks toward such an agreement,” the 12 ministers said in a joint statement on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Following additional work by negotiators, we intend to meet again next month,” they added after four days of secretive talks denounced by activists as a US attempt to railroad a deal.

The TPP is being negotiated by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. They make up 40 percent of the global economy and other countries may join the pact later.

The ministers had arrived in Singapore from the just-concluded World Trade Organization talks in the Indonesian island of Bali.

President Barack Obama has hailed the TPP as a centerpiece of renewed US engagement in Asia, saying it contains market-opening commitments that go well beyond those in other free-trade accords. But the complexity of the issues already caused negotiators to miss the original 2012 deadline set by Obama to reach a deal.