Vietnam sees TPP trade talks finishing this year

TN News

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Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal are very likely to be wrapped up by the end of 2013, Industry and Trade Minister Vu Huy Hoang has said following the 18th round of talks.

Negotiators are trying to narrow gaps, especially on "sensitive" issues like state-owned enterprises, public procurement, and the environment.

The 10-day 18th round ended in Malaysia the same day with "further strong progress" achieved, according to the office of the US trade representative.

The next round is scheduled to be held in Brunei in late August.

The pact is part of a US strategic shift under President Barack Obama to focus more economic resources on Asia and "balance China's rise."

Japan became the 12th member by joining the negotiations on July 23, along with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US, and Vietnam.

Vietnam expects the TPP, whose member countries account for nearly 40 percent of the global economy and one-third of all world trade, to create more opportunities to boost exports and attract more foreign investment.

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TPP aims to eliminate barriers to goods and services and address issues including the movement of electronic data, market access for financial firms, and copyright protection.

Tariffs on most goods traded between members will be phased out over 10 years, while other free trade and bilateral agreements allow open markets and cut taxes on a more limited range of goods.

News website Saigon Times quoted Herb Cochran, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, as saying trade between Vietnam and the US could rise by two and a half times from now to US$24.9 billion in 2020 if Vietnam signs the deal.

Exports of garments and footwear, Vietnam's key items, are likely to see growth of nearly 50 percent by 2020, he said.

The status of market or non-market economy is among issues under discussion in bilateral talks between Vietnam and the US, and not in the TTP talks, Hoang said, indicating that Vietnam not being recognized widely as a market economy did not affect the negotiations.

The country has so far achieved recognition from seven other members of the TPP and 34 in all.

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