- POSTED: 04 Oct 2013 23:04
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Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could drag on a little longer, now that US President Barack Obama is unable to attend the APEC Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
BALI, Indonesia: Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could drag on a little longer, now that US President Barack Obama is unable to attend the APEC Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Leaders of TPP economies had been scheduled to meet next Tuesday on the sidelines of the APEC gathering to continue their free trade talks.
Some business leaders said it is not clear how that will now pan out.
The US government shutdown and looming debt ceiling have kept President Obama in Washington.
With all 12 TPP nations represented in APEC, the summit is seen as a platform to gain further traction on trade talks.
Ho Meng Kit, CEO of the Singapore Business Federation, said: "There was supposed to be a meeting among the leaders on October 8, but now that President Obama is not here, we are not sure what would be the status of that meeting.
"There may not be an opportunity for an impetus to be achieved in Bali itself. It may have to be delayed..."
The Singapore Business Federation said there is probably a sweet spot or a window of about a year from now to try to get the TPP done. But a lot will depend on the political will to push through or compromise on some of the outstanding issues among the TPP members.
Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of a three-day APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting in Bali -- which was attended by some 200 business leaders and representatives -- Mr Ho said the corporates are not worried about Mr Obama's no-show in Asia, and it certainly does not mean that the US is not committed to the region.
Mr Ho said: "It is unfortunate that the US President is not able to come... the US remains very much engaged.
"I would not read too much into it that because Obama missed the summit, (it) therefore signals that he is not pivoting over to this part.
"There is a lot of momentum gathered on the 'pivot', whether it is measuring in terms of strategic engagement of naval and military presence... US business presence... or the momentum gained in TPP."
Apart from trade, other issues that the corporates will raise with the APEC leaders next week include help for small and medium enterprises, as well as providing more certainty for businesses amid market volatility.
In addition, ABAC's agenda will also feature calls to further liberalise the services sector, drive foreign direct investments, support multilateral trade and avoid protectionism as well as to achieve sustainable growth.