* Canada, Japan also ask to join group
* U.S. business community supports Mexico's inclusion
WASHINGTON, April 24 Mexican President Felipe
Calderon on Tuesday gave an impassioned defense of free trade as
Mexico waits for the United States and others to decide whether
it will be allowed to join talks on a trade pact in the
"In this very difficult time in the world economy, the world
needs more trade and not less trade," Calderon said in a speech
at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a short distance from the White
House. "That is why Mexico is pushing a lot to be part of the
TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership."
Calderon, who is not meeting with President Barack Obama on
this visit, credited Mexico's participation the North American
Free Trade Agreement and more than 40 other trade agreements
with helping its economy grow four percent last year and create
almost 600,000 net new jobs in the formal sector.
He also condemned government expropriation as a "thing of
the past," in an apparent reference to the Argentine
government's recent decision to nationalize the oil company YPF
by stripping Spanish firm Repsol of its controlling stake, and
chided Brazil for recent backsliding on free trade.
Calderon did not mention Obama in his speech, or an
investigation into allegations that Walmart de Mexico
had engaged in a multiyear campaign of bribing
Mexican officials to build its business.
Mexico, Canada and Japan in November asked to join the
United States and eight other countries in the Asia-Pacific
region - Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Singapore,
Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei - in negotiations on the
None of the three countries has received an answer yet, even
though the nine current participants have a goal of finishing
the talks this year and are planning a 12th round of talks next
month in Dallas, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk's home town.
Carol Guthrie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade
Representative's office, gave no timetable for a decision on
whether Mexico, Japan or Canada have been judged ready "to meet
the high standards and objectives of the TPP."
"While we have made progress, we and other current TPP
members have additional work ahead, including further
consultations on issues that have emerged through our analysis
and from input from Congress and stakeholders," she said.
Myron Brilliant, senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce, told Calderon after his speech that Mexico has the
strong support of the business community in its bid to join the
TPP, which the Obama administration describes as a "21st
Century" trade agreement that will go further in opening markets
and raising international standards than previous trade