Canada, Mexico ask to join pan-Pacific trade talks

Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:15pm EST
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By Pablo Garibian and Rachelle Younglai

HONOLULU (Reuters) - Canada and Mexico want to join talks to forge a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific region, giving a significant boost to the U.S.-led initiative to foster economic growth by tearing down trade barriers.

Japan, the world's third-largest economy, said earlier it would like to join.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Sunday he was encouraged to take part by U.S. President Barack Obama.

"We looked at the outline of the criteria set by the partnership and they are all criteria that Canada can easily meet. So it is something we're interested in moving forward on," Harper said at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit of 21 nations in Hawaii.

Mexico's economy minister told Reuters his government would also ask to join the talks.

"Mexico is interested in beginning consultations to join the Transpacific Partnership," Bruno Ferrari said, adding the agreement potentially offered his country an opportunity to boost growth.

The United States welcomed the interest of its two neighbors, with all of them already partners in the NAFTA trade pact.

The proposed TPP pact now includes nine countries -- the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Chile and Peru -- that have committed to what they call a "high-standard" trade agreement.   Continued...