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Mexico to join Pacific trade talks
by Staff Writers
Los Cabos, Mexico (AFP) June 18, 2012

Mexico is to join trans-Pacific trade negotiations, a stepping-stone toward a major regional trade deal, Mexican president Felipe Calderon and his US counterpart, Barack Obama, announced Monday.

Mexico has been invited to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks with nine other nations, which together account for more than a quarter of world economic output.

Announcing the move Calderon described the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as perhaps the greatest opportunity for growth in a decade and said it would bring a jobs windfall for Mexicans.

"This is one of the free-trade initiatives that's most ambitious in the world," said the outgoing Mexican president, who is hosting a Group of 20 summit in Los Cabos on the Baja California peninsula.

Mexico's participation is a boon to supporters of the TPP negotiations, by including a country that is a key driver in regional growth and Latin America's second-largest economy.

Obama emphasized the importance of bilateral US-Mexican trade, but said both countries "recognize that growth is going to take place in the Asia-Pacific region."

With US blue-collar workers still smarting from the perceived impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement -- between the United States, Mexico and Canada -- Obama was keen to stress the positives of deeper trade ties.

Enhanced trade ties "will benefit citizens in both our countries that are eager to compete and to be able to prosper in a global market."

Obama must consult Congress on Mexico's accession, where he may face some opposition within his own Democratic Party.

But many pro-trade advocates hope the proposed TPP --- between Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam -- will be a step toward a broader deal that includes regional powerhouses China, Japan and Russia.

Japan has started negotiations to join the talks, after the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster had put Tokyo's participation on hold.

While the TPP talks appear to be bearing fruit, broader talks to create a full-blown Asia-Pacific free trade deal have long withered on the vine.

Covering around 50 percent of global commerce, a deal that includes all 21 economies of APEC has the potential to significantly recast world trade flows.


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