[A2k] NYT: Kerry Hails Progress Toward Trans-Pacific Trade Pact, Despite Delays

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Aug 6 00:44:04 PDT 2015


http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/world/asia/john-kerry-hails-progress-toward-trans-pacific-partnership-despite-delays.html

ASIA PACIFIC

Kerry Hails Progress Toward Trans-Pacific Trade Pact, Despite Delays

By MICHAEL R. GORDONAUG. 4, 2015


Secretary of State John Kerry said a regional agreement would raise
standards for labor practices, discourage corruption and better protect the
environment.


SINGAPORE — Days after negotiators failed to wrap up an Asia trade
agreement, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed confidence on Tuesday
that the pact would be completed, calling it vital for the economic
well-being of the region.

“We made progress, good progress, in our negotiations toward one of the
most significant trade agreements in history, the Trans-Pacific
Partnership,” Mr. Kerry said in a speech atSingapore Management University.

“No country can expect its economy to grow simply by buying and selling to
its own people,” Mr. Kerry added. “It is just not going to happen. It
defies the law of economics. Trade is a job creator and prosperity builder,
period.”

The trade pact has been a top priority for the Obama administration, which
has proclaimed a policy of focusing more on Asia as part of a “rebalancing”
of American interests.

The White House had hoped that Congress’s passage in June of “fast track”
negotiating powers would pave the way for concluding the accord, which
would be the largest regional trade pact in history.

But the 12-nation talks have been snagged by differences over access to
agricultural markets and protections for drug companies, among other
issues. Trade ministers meeting in Hawaii failed to reach a final agreement
on Friday, raising concerns that the discussions would be extended into the
politically charged presidential election campaign in the United States.

Mr. Kerry acknowledged in his speech that the negotiations had been tough
and that there were still “details to be hashed out,” though he did not
discuss any of the obstacles to progress or suggest how they might be
overcome.

Still, he said there were compelling reasons for negotiations to continue.
In addition to generating jobs, he said, the accord would raise the
region’s standards for labor practices, discourage corruption and better
protect the environment.

“It will send a message to people within the T.P.P. and outside of support
for good governance, transparency, accountability,” he said, using the
initials for the accord.

“Every participant will have to comply with core international labor and
environmental standards,” Mr. Kerry said. “Every participant will have to
refrain from using underage workers, unsafe workplaces. Every participant
will have to ensure that state-owned companies compete fairly with ones
that are privately owned. And every participant will have to fight
trade-related bribery and corruption, ensure free and open digital trade,
and safeguard intellectual property.”

Mr. Kerry said that the Obama administration was still determined to move
ahead — “boldly,” he said — with its policy of focusing more on Asia. But
his current round-the-world trip illustrates the challenges in trying to
carry out that shift.

With the United States increasingly concerned about the Islamic State, the
militant group that has laid claim to much of Iraq and Syria and that has
found adherents in the Sinai Peninsula and in Libya, Mr. Kerry began his
trip in Egypt. As Congress reviewed the nuclear deal that the United States
and five other world powers negotiated with Iran, Mr. Kerry then went to
Qatar to secure support for the accord from the Arab monarchies in the
Persian Gulf before arriving in Singapore on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Kerry, who in his speech also endorsed Mr. Obama’s clean power
initiative and made an appeal to fight climate change, spoke shortly before
leaving for regional meetings in Malaysia. He plans to visit Hanoi,
Vietnam, on Friday to observe the 20th anniversary of the re-establishment
of United States-Vietnamese diplomatic relations.



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