US-Pacific trade pact falters

 
Julian Harris
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BARACK Obama, the US President, announced plans for an ambitious cross-Pacific free trade pact from his home state of Hawaii yesterday, yet behind closed doors disputes threaten to scupper any agreement.

In a private discussion with Chinese President Hu Jintao over the weekend, Obama raised the ongoing battle between the countries over China’s weighing down of the yuan.

Obama told Hu the American people and US businesses were “growing increasingly impatient and frustrated with the pace of change” in the US-China economic relationship, senior White House aide Michael Froman told reporters.

And relations with Japan were also strained over the weekend, after Japanese authorities denied a White House statement that said the Asian state would place all its economy’s goods and services on the negotiation table for possible liberalisation.

“It is not true that Prime Minister Noda made such a comment in the summit meeting. We pointed out to the US side that the statement in question is not true and asked for explanation,” a Japanese government statement said.

The Japanese government faces strong pressure from lobby groups that support ongoing protectionism to defend their industries from foreign competition, such as farmers and doctors.

Yet the Japanese authorities remain supportive of agreement between nine members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).