Negotiations are underway for the U.S. to join the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (SEP) Agreement. Also known as the P4 agreement, it is a multilateral trade pact currently involving the countries of Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. The pact took effect in late 2006. U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab met recently with trade ministers of the four member countries to begin talks on American participation. According to a statement by USTR, the principals emphasized the importance of the pact "as a vehicle for trans-Pacific-wide economic integration." The P4 agreement is intended to reinforce regional economic activity under the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. (All P4 countries are also members of APEC.) It could also serve as a path toward creation of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, USTR said. P4 ministers have agreed to hold their first round of talks with the U.S. early in 2009. At the same time, they reaffirmed their commitment to a successful conclusion of the World Trade Organization's Doha Round of trade talks, even though that effort has recently stalled.
US Trade Representative
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