July deadline for free trade pact

By Monday November 14th, 2011 No Comments

HONOLULU: The United States and its eight Trans-Pacific Partnership allies have agreed to complete the broad outlines of the free trade agreement by July next year.

Leaders of the member countries, including Malaysia, who met here yesterday also agreed the partnership should be inclusive and opened to other countries to pave the way to free trade across the Pacific.

President Barack Obama, who hosted the meeting, the first among the partnership’s leaders, said the pact will secure prosperity for the region by increasing region-wide trade and investment as well as boost exports and create jobs in member economies.

In a joint statement released after the meeting, the leaders said they shared a “strong interest” in expanding the deal and that negotiators would meet in December to make headway on the pact.

“Taken together, the eight economies will be America’s fifth largest trading partner with US$200bil (RM628bil) in annual trade and nearly 500 million consumers between us.

“There is so much we can do together.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership has the potential to be a model, not only for Asia-Pacific but future trade,” Obama said at the end of the meeting, which was also attended by Prime MInister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The other TPP partners are Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. More countries have expressed interest to join the pact, including Japan and Mexico.

Najib, in an immediate response, said Malaysia was committed to the deadline but it required great effort.

“Very clear direction should be given to negotiators and resources, in terms of budgetary (requirements), to make sure this process has enough momentum to achieve the July deadline,” he added.

Najib said he told the meeting the pact must have key operative words, such as being flexible and realistic in taking into account domestic requirements, different levels of development and different levels of domestic priorities.

“These are important things for the nine member countries in the partnership to be mindful of in trying to achieve and accelerate the timetable,” said Najib, who is here to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.

Meanwhile, in a briefing to Malaysian reporters later yesterday, he said during bilateral talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, they touched on expanding trade ties.

“He said Russia is happy with Petronas’ investment and wants the national oil corporation to expand its operation.

“We also discussed space exploration and may consider purchasing more Sukhoi (aircraft).

“We are also looking at Russia for the palm oil market and possible increase in flights to Russia, including to Vladivostok,” added Najib.

He mentioned that he also met Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who was writing a book on the Internet and wanted Najib’s views.

The Prime Minister said he told Schmidt that, as a politician, he engaged the public through social media, blog and tweeting regularly.

Source : The Star

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