U.S. to Join Trade Talks With Four Asia-Pacific Countries

National Association of Manufacturers applauds the move.

The United States will join trade negotiations on investment and financial services next month among Singapore, Chile, New Zealand and Brunei, the top U.S. trade negotiator said Monday.

"We see these investment and financial services negotiations as an opportunity to further our engagement with countries committed to high-standard trade agreements," U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said in a statement.

The so-called "P-4" group of countries negotiated its own free trade agreement (FTA), the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership, based largely on the United States' FTAs with Singapore and Chile, the statement said. The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership took effect in 2006, but the investment and financial services chapters remain to be negotiated.

Schwab said the Bush Administration, as part of the U.S. participation in the negotiations on these two issues, also would begin an exploration of whether it should participate in the full Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership. "This initiative also will provide another opportunity for the United States to participate in the regional trade architecture that is emerging in the vitally important Asia-Pacific region," she said.

The announcement drew swift applause from one US manufacturing association. "These negotiations are a great opportunity for the United States to extend the highest-quality investment and financial services language -- including robust investor-state provisions -- to strong trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region," said Frank Vargo, National Association of Manufacturers vice president of international economic policy.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

TAGS: Trade
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