As differences on outstanding issues remain, the United States and 11 other economies participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations failed to reach a final deal on the TPP Friday after wrapping up a four-day ministerial meeting.
"We have made significant progress" during this week's meeting, but there are still "a limited number" of difficult issues remaining to be resolved, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Friday at a closing press conference.
"Ministers and negotiators leave Hawaii committed to build on the momentum of this meeting by staying in close contact as negotiators continue their intensive engagement to find common ground," Fromam said, adding that "we are more confident than ever that TPP is within reach".
Optimism has grown in recent weeks that this week's meeting could be the final round of negotiations on the broad TPP agreement after U.S. Congress granted the trade promotion authority, also known as the fast-track authority, to President Barack Obama.
That trade authority would allow the U.S. president to submit trade deals to Congress for an up-or-down vote without amendments, which is crucial for the swift congressional consideration of a TPP deal.
But this week's intensive negotiations were more difficult than people had expected, with key discrepancies in the areas of market access and intellectual property rights further postponing the finalization of the ambitious Asia-Pacific trade deal.
Froman said trade ministers will continue to engage in the coming period, but there's not an exact date set for the next round of negotiations.
The TPP, believed to be the world's biggest trade agreement in the past two decades that covers about 40 percent of global economic output, is central to the Obama administration's policy of advancing economic engagement in Asia and writing the rules for international trade and investment in the 21st century.
President Barack Obama is under pressure to seal the deal and get it passed in Congress as soon as possible, securing his trade legacy before the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign heats up.
The TPP talks involve Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
Interview: TPP without China would be "a failed agreement"
MAUI, the United States, July 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. experts say that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal involving 12 countries in the Asia Pacific region would be "a failed agreement" without China's participation.
"China is the largest economy in Asia, we need it to be part of the TPP," Tami Overby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's senior vice president for Asia, told Xinhua in an interview on the sidelines of the four-day TPP ministerial meeting held here with the aim of substantially concluding the ambitious Asia-Pacific trade talks.