Released on 2012-10-19 08:00 GMT
Talks start in Australia on Pacific trade deal
By James Grubel
CANBERRA (Reuters) – Officials from eight nations including the United
States began talks on a transpacific trade deal on Monday in a move
Australia said could add momentum to stalled World Trade Organization
President Barack Obama, who aims to double U.S. exports in five years,
hopes to shore up the U.S. economic position in Asia by joining an
expanded Trans Pacific Partnership pact, which he says will also create
much needed jobs in the United States.
The United States, Australia, Peru and Vietnam are seeking to join the
Trans Pacific Partnership, which already includes Chile, Singapore, New
Zealand and Brunei.
The Trans Pacific Partnership aims to push members of broader the Asia
Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) groups of nations toward a long-term
goal of an Asia-Pacific free trade zone.
“This is a very significant potential trade negotiation. It has the basis
for being the bridge to a free trade area for the Asia Pacific,”
Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean said on Monday, adding the talks
added momentum to the Doha WTO round.
The eight nations in talks cover 470 million people with a combined GDP of
$16 trillion. The first of four rounds of talks set for 2010 will cover
tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers, e-commerce, services and
intellectual property rights.
Obama, facing a revolt among Democrats who believe past trade agreements
cost millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs, says the TPP, his first trade
initiative, will offer stronger protection for U.S. workers and the
environment than previous pacts.
The U.S. priorities in the TPP include promoting clean energy and other
emerging economic sectors, gaining new exports for its manufacturers,
farmers and service providers and boosting protections for U.S.
intellectual property rights.
An East Asia Free Trade Area without the United States could cost U.S.
companies at least $25 billion in annual exports, or about 200,000
high-paying jobs, says The Peterson Institute for International Economics
Obama wants to create 2 million new jobs by deepening U.S. engagement with
major emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil and the Asia-Pacific.
DOHA AGREEMENT CRUCIAL
Australia is also currently negotiating free trade agreements with China
and Japan, it’s top two trading partners, and began a new round of talks
on Monday with South Korea, its third largest export market.
Crean said despite these negotiations, a successful outcome to the Doha
round of global trade talks was still the best way to free up world trade.
“I certainly haven’t given up on Doha. Doha in many ways still holds the
best and quickest approach to trade liberalization in the short term, if
we can find the political will,” Crean told reporters in Canberra. “Doha
will give that stimulus, without impact on respective budgets.”
The WTO’s Doha round was launched in the Qatari capital in late 2001 with
the aim of freeing up world trade and helping poor countries prosper by
opening up markets and cutting trade barriers in rich countries.
But the 153-nation talks stalled in 2008 over a dispute between the United
States and Europe, and China and Brazil, on protection for farmers in rich
countries and barriers to industrial goods from developing nations.
(Editing by Michael Perry and Alex Richardson)
Watch Officer/Beijing Correspondent , STRATFOR
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