UPDATE 1-Asia-Pacific free trade talks make progress, slowly

Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:25am EST
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* TPP talks make progress on fine print

* No progress on difficult issues: copyright, farm barriers

* October, 2013 still target date for free trade pact

By Gyles Beckford

AUCKLAND, Dec 12 (Reuters) - U.S.-led talks in New Zealand on a free trade deal for the Asia-Pacific region have made some progress but have a long way to go to reach a pact to dismantle entrenched trade barriers by the end of next year, the negotiators said on Wednesday.

Several hundred officials from 11 countries have spent more than a week in Auckland for the 15th set of negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which began in March 2010.

New Zealand's chief delegate said the talks had brought new TPP members, Canada and Mexico, into the process and made progress on the language and mechanisms of any deal, as well as clearly identified what needs to be done on the difficult issues such as intellectual property, environment and investment.

"There is considerable amount of work to do," David Walker told a media briefing, adding there was a common desire among the 11 nations to reach a deal next year.

"On the various market access negotiations, discussions continue as we move towards construction of an overall package, which meet the ambitions set out by leaders and ministers and is acceptable to all," he said.   Continued...