Trans-Pacific Partners and United States Launch FTA Negotiations

September 22, 2008

New York City, New York -- U.S. Trade Representative Susan
C. Schwab and Ministers of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership
Agreement; Brunei Darussalam Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister II Lim Jock
Seng, Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Alejandro Foxley, New Zealand Trade
Minister Phil Goff and Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo, met today
and announced the launch of negotiations for the United States to join the
comprehensive Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement.

In their discussions, the Ministers emphasized the
importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement as a vehicle for
Trans-Pacific-wide economic integration.  This regional agreement sets a
high standard that will enhance the competitiveness of the countries that are
part of it and help facilitate trade and promote investment between them,
increasing their economic growth and development. The Trans-Pacific Partners
welcomed the addition of the United States as
a significant step forward in advancing this goal.  The Trans-Pacific
Partnership members also noted that discussions are underway with other
countries that have expressed interest in potentially joining the

The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to a successful
conclusion to the WTO Doha negotiations and underscored that by promoting
increased trade liberalization through a high-standard agreement, the Agreement
will support continued ambition in the Doha round.  They also noted that the
Trans-Pacific Partnership is reinforcing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) goal of promoting regional economic integration and that it could serve
as a potential way to build towards the Free Trade Area of the Asia

The Ministers agreed to hold the first round of
Trans-Pacific Partnership – United States negotiations early next


In late 2005, Brunei, Chile, New
Zealand and Singapore concluded the Trans-Pacific
Strategic Economic Partnership, an agreement intended to serve as a pathway to
broader Asia-Pacific wide trade liberalization and integration.  The
Agreement went into effect in late 2006.  In March 2008, Trans-Pacific
Partnership countries began work on the outstanding Financial Services and
Investment chapters and were joined by the United States in
these talks. 

The Asia-Pacific region is a key driver of global economic
growth, representing nearly 60 percent of global GDP and roughly 50 percent of
international trade. The average GDP growth rate in the rapidly growing and
dynamic countries in this region was 5.3 percent in 2007, compared with the
world average of 3.8 percent. Since 1990, Asia-Pacific goods trade has increased
by 300 percent, while global investment in the region has increased by over 400

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