Obama Underscores Need to Finish Asia-Pacific Trade Deal This Year

By Vicki Needham, The Hill, 09/03/13 09:53 AM ET

President Obama reiterated on Tuesday his desire to complete an Asia-Pacific trade deal this year, arguing that it will not only boost economic growth but shore up global security.

During a conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the president once again underscored his stance that the 12 nations involved in negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) should conclude talks this fall, the White House said.

Both leaders agreed to closely consult with one another on how to forge ahead. 

The nation’s trade leaders have said they made progress during the 19th round of the trade talks, which wrapped up recently in Brunei. Those talks were the first full round for Japan.

Leaders of the nations in addition to the U.S. and Japan — Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — have agreed to the aim of finishing by the end of the year.

Top negotiators will hold their next meeting Sept. 18-21 in Washington.

The U.S. and Tokyo are involved in parallel negotiations designed to wrench open Japan’s markets, especially for automobiles. That bilateral agreement would be included in the final TPP deal and would be fully enforceable.

Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) has argued that the United States has tried for decades to gain a better foothold for its exports in Japan’s markets to no avail.

On the timeframe front, business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, have expressed concern that a final high-level deal should not be compromised to meet a year-end deadline.

Obama and Abe also discussed their partnership in the overall peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region and to “continue implementing our shared plan for U.S. force posture realignment in Japan.”

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