26 February 2014
TRADE ministers from 12 Asia-Pacific nations meeting in Singapore in recent days have edged closer to achieving an ambitious regional pact.
But the end is still not yet in sight for the deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), set to cover 790 million people.
The latest round of talks ended in Singapore yesterday with no clear signs of a timeframe as to when the deal will be concluded.
“We made further strides towards a final agreement”, the 12 ministers noted in a joint statement yesterday after the four-day talks at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.
“We have agreed on the majority of the ‘landing zones’ identified at our last meeting. While some issues remain, we have charted a path forward to resolve them in the context of a comprehensive and balanced outcome.”
However, no date has been set for the next round of negotiations, leaving experts wondering if the deal’s conclusion will be reached only near the end of this year.
“Not having any date at all is not a good sign… It makes everyone wonder if they are entering a period of drift,” said Dr Deborah Elms, a TPP specialist and head of the Temasek Foundation Centre for Trade and Negotiations at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
“They didn’t get as far as we would have hoped. The progress is not nearly as strong,” she told The Straits Times yesterday.
GPO / RSIS / Print
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