A trans-Pacific trade deal involving the United States, Australia, New Zealand and six other nations could be settled by the middle of next year if the U.S. sets a deadline at talks currently underway in Hawaii, Radio New Zealand reported Friday.
The report quoted New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser as saying that in the next 48 hours the U.S. could set a target to conclude the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) deal.
The deadline for a TPP deal had been set for the APEC (Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting now underway in Honolulu, but the report said that was scuppered by slow progress on issues sensitive to the U.S., such as access to its dairy market.
Groser told Radio New Zealand that a speedy resolution would suit New Zealand and that dragging out the talks would not make a deal easier.
The U.S. wanted to maintain momentum "and so do we, after all the disappointments of the Doha round," said Groser referring to the long-running global trade talks.
Other nations involved in the TPP negotiations are Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
APEC leaders and ministers have been meeting in Honolulu since Tuesday to discuss regional economic integration and free trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific.
APEC trade and foreign ministers are meeting Friday and leaders from APEC's 21 member economies will meet on Nov. 12 and 13 to discuss topics under the theme "Toward a Seamless Regional Economy. "