WASHINGTON D.C.: The White House downplayed any expectations on Thursday (Friday in Manila) of progress on a much-awaited pan-Pacific trade deal during President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Asia.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would encompass 40 percent of the global economy and include 12 nations, has been the subject of protracted negotiations. It does not include China.
US President Barack Obama said in June he hoped to have an agreement on framing the deal by November.
The talks have been slowed by debate between Washington and Tokyo on key details, including Japanese tariffs on agricultural imports and US access to Japan’s auto market.
“In the context of these negotiations, they have kicked all of the most difficult sticking points to the very end,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
“They’ve made important progress but there are still some important sticking points that remain,” he added.
And because of those hangups, Earnest added: “I don’t anticipate that we’ll have any announcement along these lines in the context of the president’s trip to Asia.”
Obama will kick off his Asian tour on Monday with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Beijing.
He is due to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit.
Obama will then travel to Myanmar for the East Asia Summit, followed by a stop in Australia for a Group of 20 summit.
In Myanmar, he will meet with longtime opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon on November 14. He will also hold a bilateral meeting with President Thein Sein during his November 12-14 stay in Myanmar.