HONOLULU President Barack Obama said Saturday the broad outlines of a deal had been reached on the TranspAcific Partnership trade initiative and he predicted success for the agreement.
"I am confident we can get this done," Obama said as the annual leaders' meeting of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit was getting underway.
Obama, hosting the APEC summit in his birthplace of Honolulu, said he was confident the TPP agreement could be finalized in the coming year.
He made the remarks in a meeting with leaders of the eight other APEC members involved in the TPP talks.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk sat next to Obama, beaming as the president spoke.
With Europe mired in crisis, the Obama administration sees the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region as key to boosting exports and helping to create jobs to bring down high U.S. unemployment.
The nine countries involved in the TranspAcific Partnership talks are the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile and Peru.
Japan Friday announced its interest in joining the negotiations, which if it is concluded would create a regional economic group about 40 percent larger than the 27-nation European Union.
China, the world's second-largest economy, has not expressed interest in joining the talks.
But earlier Friday, President Hu Jintao reiterated China's commitment to APEC's long-term goal of negotiating a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, which would include all 21 members.
(Reporting by Laura MacInnis and Doug Palmer, Editing by Warren Strobel and John O'Callaghan)