Trade ministers from the United States and 11 other countries will open talks in Singapore on Saturday in an attempt to meet a US deadline to forge a trans-Pacific trade pact before the end of the year.
However, analysts said an agreement on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was unlikely to be reached during the four-day meeting, owing to differences on key issues such as intellectual property protection.
The TPP is being negotiated by 12 nations — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam — that together make up 40 percent of the global economy.
Washington has spearheaded the secretive talks, which have been denounced by non-government groups for their alleged lack of transparency.
President Barack Obama has hailed the TPP as a centrepiece of renewed US engagement in Asia, saying it contains market-opening commitments that go well beyond those made in other free-trade accords.
But the complexity of the issues has already caused negotiators to miss the original 2012 deadline set by Obama to reach a deal, with the new target also looking unlikely.
“They aren’t very far away from a deal but my own guess is that they are more likely to conclude around March,” said Deborah K.
A South Carolina sheriff has gone public with his vow to refuse to honor President Barack Obama’s order to fly the U. S. flag at half-staff in honor of South African human rights champion Nelson Mandela.
Talking Points Memo reported on Friday that Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark posted his statement on his Facebook page.
“Nelson Mandela did great things for his country and was a brave man but he was not an AMERICAN!!!
Southeast Asia eyes Chinese air zone expansion (+video) (via The Christian Science Monitor)
Filipino fishermen waved from a boat bound for the Scarborough Shoal in May. China now bars access. (Erik De Castro/Reuters) Nowhere are governments keeping a closer eye on China’s latest move to press its territorial claims (see related article) than…
As the world remembers an icon, we reflect on the life and legacy of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, Sunday on “This Week.” George Stephanopoulos speaks with four individuals who knew the former South African president – former U. S. Ambassador to South Africa Jendayi Frazer, former
British pop icon Elton John at his Moscow concert on Friday called on Russia to end discrimination against gays and lesbians, the Interfax news agency reported.
The openly gay singer said he was “sad to learn” about a Russian “anti-gay law” which bans what it calls homosexual propaganda to minors, Interfax reported.
“He called for renouncing all discrimination, including that based on non-traditional sexual orientation,” the agency said, using an expression in Russia for describing homosexuality.
According to Interfax and several messages on social networks, John dedicated his concert to Vladislav Tornovoi, a 23-year-old man tortured to death in May in Volgograd, in southwest Russia, apparently for being gay.
That sordid crime raised an outcry from the gay community and gay rights activists.
John was the first major Western star known for strong support of gay rights to play in Russia since President Vladimir Putin in June signed a national law banning “propaganda of homosexuality” to minors.
The loosely-worded law, aggressively lobbied by conservative lawmakers, can be used to ban any gay rights event, critics say.
John, 66, publicly announced his homosexuality in 1988 and is in a civil partnership.