WRAPUP 2-Pacific trade pact talks move into 3rd day, hang in the balance
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By Krista Hughes and Ana Isabel Martinez
ATLANTA Oct 1 (Reuters) - Trade ministers from a dozen Pacific nations meeting in Atlanta extended talks on a sweeping trade deal into a third day in a move officials said would either produce a breakthrough or send them home with the future of the agreement in doubt.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman was asking ministers to stay for another 24 hours, through Friday evening, in a bid to wrap up the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, two people briefed on the talks said.
Observers pointed to progress on autos, Canada's pledge to compensate farmers hurt by imports and signs of a possible compromise on patent protection for new drugs as evidence of advancement.
Several officials said a final deal could come quickly if key issues are cleared in remaining talks Thursday. The alternative would be for ministers to try to reconvene in November, although that risked losing momentum in a process that has already run five years.
"It's complicated, but we are continuing with the aim of achieving an agreement. By the late evening we could have clarity," said one person involved in the closed-door discussions.
The TPP would liberalize trade in 40 percent of the world economy for a region stretching from Vietnam to Canada.
A deal would be a legacy-defining achievement for U.S. President Barack Obama. But the trade deal is seen as a threat by an array of interest groups from Mexican auto workers to Quebec dairy farmers to cancer patients who worry that it could push the cost of new therapies out of reach. Continued...