Biden eyes trans-Pacific trade deal ’this year’

Via Business Recorder

US Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday he aims for completion of a huge trans-Pacific trade deal in 2013, as he outlined efforts to embrace Asia and broaden global prosperity.

Biden, who embarks early next week on an official visit to India and Singapore, said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that would encompass 40 percent of the world's economy will be the perfect vehicle for updating global trade standards.

"Not only is this ambitious, this TPP effort of ours, we believe it is doable, and we are working hard to get this done this year," Biden said in a speech highlighting the US strategic pivot to Asia.

Delegations from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam hope to conclude the pact before the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bali in October.

Biden said President Barack Obama's administration was reaching out to emerging economies as well as established giants like China and India -- neither of which are part of the TPP.

"We firmly believe this (trade pact) will be a strong incentive for other nations to raise their standards as well," he said.

The vice president reiterated his and Obama's unwavering commitment to "rebalance" toward Asia.

Ensuring geo-political stability, reducing "the risk of mistake and miscalculation" and peaceful resolution of territorial disputes such as those in the South China Sea could lead to even greater economic gains in the region, Biden said.

"Imagine what could happen if growing Asia-Pacific middle classes could help lift the global economy even more than they already are," he said.

He stressed that the United States remained fully engaged with Europe, with which it is also in trade talks, and the Middle East, where Secretary of State John Kerry has conducted months of shuttle diplomacy.

"Folks, that's what big powers do," Biden assured the audience at George Washington University.

"To use the vernacular, we can walk and chew gum at the same time."

Ainsley Shea