Pacific trade pact details could be released this week: source

Wed Nov 4, 2015 9:30pm EST
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By Krista Hughes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pacific trading partners are working toward releasing details of a sweeping free-trade pact, designed to free up exports of goods ranging from medicines to milk, as early as the end of this week, a person familiar with the text said on Wednesday.

Officials were working on the final aspects of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) text, the person said, after negotiators reached a deal on Oct. 5 in Atlanta.

The pact is the most ambitious in a generation and a landmark achievement for U.S. President Barack Obama, who hopes it will cement U.S. influence in the Asia-Pacific region and help counter the rise of China.

But it is opposed by unions and many of Obama's fellow Democrats, including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who initially backed the developing deal when she was secretary of state during Obama's first term.

Some pro-trade Republicans have also been wary of supporting the agreement until the whole document is released and many business groups are keen to see the fine print.

New Zealand is the official depository for the agreement, meaning it is responsible for circulating the text and related documents and notifications. Auckland is 18 hours ahead of Washington.

Release of the text may also start the clock ticking on the 12 member countries' domestic processes for ratifying the deal.

Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, told a New York seminar he had "every hope" he could turn Clinton back round to the deal.   Continued...

Trade ministers from a dozen Pacific nations in Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministers meeting post in TPP Ministers "Family Photo" in Atlanta, Georgia October 1, 2015. REUTERS/USTR Press Office/Handout