After election, pressure grows on Obama in Asia-Pacific trade talks
The 11 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, talks meet next week in Auckland, New Zealand, for the 15th round since negotiations were launched in March 2010.
With Obama now re-elected, U.S. negotiators have more freedom to deal with demands for the United States to open its sugar, dairy, clothing, footwear and other markets to more imports without worrying about hurting the president at the polls.
"I think the feeling (among TPP countries) was that the United States was negotiating in good faith ... but everyone knew that it wasn't getting done before the election," said Ernest Bower, director of Southeast Asia studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
While the TPP talks are set to mark their third anniversary in March, there is no formal deadline for a deal.
But TPP leaders will be in Bali for the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in early October, creating a powerful incentive for negotiators to reach a deal by then.
"I think there's a deal in 2013 or it's dead, because I don't think the Asian countries will wait around longer than that," Bower said.
The Asia-Pacific region, which includes almost any country with a Pacific shore, contains many of the world's biggest and fastest-growing economies. The region's middle class is expected to swell
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