The United States said trade negotiations with eight Pacific partners made "important progress" in the latest round of talks that wrapped up in California on Tuesday.
The 13th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, aimed at creating a vast trade pact across the dynamic region, made advances on 20 areas under negotiation, the office of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said.
The USTR noted "particularly significant" progress on a number of issues, such as customs, cross-border services, telecommunications and government procurement, in the July 2-10 talks in San Diego.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade priority for President Barack Obama, who has cast the potential pact as a way to boost U.S. exports and jobs while preserving labor and environmental standards dear to his political base.
Negotiators representing Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam were at the U.S.-hosted negotiations.
Advances in Rules of Origin
The USTR also said advances were made on rules of origin, investment, financial services, temporary entry and other issues.
It highlighted a new U.S. proposal on intellectual property rights, dealing with copyright limitations and exceptions.
Negotiators will take the progress made on issues back to their capitals for review.
The next round of talks was scheduled for September 6-15 in Leesburg, Virginia.
USTR spokeswoman Carol Guthrie said the process of moving forward on TPP membership for Canada and Mexico was in the hands of Congress.
Letters to Congress were sent on Mexico and Canada on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, the spokeswoman told reporters.
Canada and Mexico, Washington's partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement trade bloc, won approval from TPP negotiators to join the potential trade pact at the Group of 20's June 18-19 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012