U.S. sees hurdles to China joining Pacific trade pact

Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:45pm EST

Michael Froman, U.S. Trade Representative gestures during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

Michael Froman, U.S. Trade Representative gestures during a session at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 23, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Ruben Sprich

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(Reuters) - Washington wants progress on an investment treaty with Beijing before it considers expanding an eventual Pacific-region trade pact to include China, a top U.S. official said on Thursday.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the United States was open to other countries joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being negotiated by Washington and 11 other nations.

However, before China can be considered, Washington wants movement on a bilateral investment treaty.

"We'll want to see whether we can make progress there first," Froman said during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Beijing said in May it would consider joining the TPP, which would establish a free-trade bloc stretching from Vietnam to Chile and Japan, encompassing about 800 million people and almost 40 percent of the global economy.

Other countries, including South Korea, have also expressed interest in joining, although Washington has said they would have to wait until the current negotiators reach a deal.

Washington had hoped for a deal by the end of 2013, but that did not happen in part because of differences over farm tariffs between the United States and Japan.

The countries already in the talks are the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

The United States and China agreed in July to restart stalled negotiations on an investment treaty, with Beijing dropping efforts to protect some sectors of its economy.

Froman said the renewed talks with Beijing would be part of a larger agreement.

"That's where I think our focus should be because those are key elements of any investment chapter," he added.

(Reporting by Jason Lange in Washington. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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Comments (1)
TPP a comprehensive international agreement, a small part of which is also trade pact, but the majority concerns IP and taking care of rights of large international corporations.
By the way the TPP is the agreement for 800 million people living in democratic societies, that is
800 000 000 people, but the text of the agreement is unknown to
799 999 000 people living in these democratic societies.
The text of the agreement is democratically known to anybody with net worth above 1 billion (a person or corporation).

Jan 23, 2014 6:57pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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