After years of talks, negotiators for the United States and 11 other nations are trying to hash out final terms of a controversial free-trade agreement that could have a sweeping effect on the global economy.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, would knock down tariffs and import quotas, making it cheaper to import and export, and open new Asia-Pacific markets to American companies.
The latest round of talks, led by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, has been continuing since Wednesday. But the outlook for a deal was uncertain. A USTR web page on Sunday night said a final press conference had been “delayed pending further notice.”
The TPP is a central focus of President Obama’s trade agenda and something he has pushed for since the start of his presidency. Any agreement among the 12 countries will have to be OK’d by Congress.
The countries taking part — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam — together make up 40% of the world’s economy.
The U.S. and Japan — the first and third largest economies in the world — have anchored the talks.