US hopeful of a major trans-Pacific trade deal by year-end

US hopeful of a major trans-Pacific trade deal by year-end

"We hope to develop a number of the core elements of a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement by the time of the meeting in Honolulu and this will be an opportunity both to focus on those discussions as well as the broader APEC discussions," Deputy US National Security Advisor Michael Froman told reporters.

Briefing reporters on the last week's gathering of senior officials from the 21 APEC economies in Washington, Froman said nine of the APEC economies are currently involved in the TPP discussions.

There are a series of meetings going on and negotiating rounds going on, he added.
Froman said the work of the APEC and the TPP are complementary and reinforcing.
"APEC economies are engaged in a series of trade-liberalising activities, all directed toward trying to build a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, and we see TPP as being an important contribution to that effort as well," he said.

"There is some overlap between the issues that we're talking about in TPP and the issues we're talking about in APEC and the non-TPP members are welcome the chance to discuss how to define the next-generation trade issues that could affect both tracks of discussions.

"So they're really quite complementary and reinforcing, and again, all contribute to the concept and the idea of freer trade throughout the region," he noted.

"I think our goal is to make as much progress in developing the TPP concept by the time of Honolulu. We're in a series of negotiations with our TPP partners and the key thing is to reach as much of an agreement on the overall framework as we can by that time.
"I wouldn't want to set any particular goals or deadlines for reaching a finalised agreement," Froman said.

Under America's chairmanship, he said the APEC is focusing on three areas -- first, strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade.

This builds on the work that APEC has done over much of the last 20 years, but will focus this year on next generation trade and investment issues such as supply chain, performance, innovation and trade and technology and what the 21st century trade agreements in the region might look like, he said.

The second area of work will be promoting green growth. Officials at last week's meetings began to discuss a number of areas of potential cooperation in this area, including addressing non-tariff barriers affecting trade and investment in environmental goods and services, promoting trade and environmental-related products, combating trade in illegal logging and streamlining import procedures for advanced low-carbon demonstration vehicles.

The third major area at work is advancing regulatory cooperation and regulatory convergence. "We’ll be building on that to develop proposals to work to strengthen the implementation of good regulatory practices and improve regulatory cooperation across APEC," Froman said.

Members also agreed to tackle the specific issues around barriers to trade in emerging green technologies, including smart grid technology.