WRAPUP 1-Pacific trade ministers push to wrap up ambitious trade deal

Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:25pm EDT
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By Ana Isabel Martinez and Krista Hughes

ATLANTA, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Pacific trade ministers readied on Wednesday to close the biggest trade deal in a generation but warned there was still work to be done on issues ranging from intellectual property to trade in dairy and automobiles.

Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said ministers from the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) detailed outstanding issues at a meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, and pledged to try to close the deal this week.

"All the participants were genuine about coming here to conclude," he told Reuters after the plenary session on the TPP, which would cut trade barriers and set common standards for 40 percent of the world economy.

"There's an intent there. We are now swapping different versions of possible outcomes, but we have got a lot to do," he said.

Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari was quoted by Japanese media as saying, "We have to head into this with the expectation that we can wrap things up."

Japan, the second largest economy in the bloc after the United States, is under pressure to open its agricultural sector to more imports and wants to secure a good deal for its automakers.

Australia is keen to export more of its sugar and dairy, and wary of a push by the United States to set patent periods for medicines that would extend beyond the current five years currently mandated by Canberra.

Monopoly periods for next-generation biologics drugs are one of the thorniest issues left for ministers to debate, along with local content rules on autos traded between Mexico, Canada, the United States and Japan.   Continued...