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Chile official: Asia-Pacific trade bloc may not be ready in 2011

Dow Jones Newswires | 17 Fed 2011

Chile official: Asia-Pacific trade bloc may not be ready in 2011

By Carolina Pica, Dow Jones Newswires

SANTIAGO -(Dow Jones)- An Asia-Pacific free-trade agreement nine nations are negotiating might not be ready this year as originally expected, Chile’s chief trade negotiator said Thursday.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, as the bloc is known, seeks to bring together the U.S., Singapore, Chile, Australia and Peru, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

Chile, which has free-trade agreements with all but one of these nations, is hosting the fifth round of negotiations this week.

"Multilateral negotiations are much more complex than bilateral ones," Chile’s chief trade negotiator Jorge Bunster told reporters at a press conference.

In January, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said he hopes a deal to create the bloc will be completed by November.

Bunster said that while he’s optimistic advances will be made in the next four rounds of talks scheduled from March through November, he couldn’t rule out that negotiations would extend into next year.

"We’d like to advance at a brisk pace, but the negotiations are of such complexity...that we have to be open to possibility of continuing into next year," he said.

The nine nations negotiating the pact represent a market of 472 million people and a gross domestic product of over $16 billion.

Chile already signed what it called the P4 free-trade agreement with Brunei, New Zealand and Singapore, and has separate free-trade pacts with the U.S., Australia, Malaysia and Peru. It is currently negotiating a free-trade pact with Vietnam.

 source: Dow Jones