Pacific trade deal negotiators finish 'difficult' round
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (AFP) - Negotiators from 12 countries concluded a week of talks in Brunei on a free-trade agreement on Friday but announced no breakthroughs in discussions that one official called "difficult".
The effort pushed by US President Barack Obama to create an Asia-Pacific free-trade area covering nearly 40 per cent of global economic output has run into turbulence amid protectionist reflexes, casting doubt on hopes of concluding the pact by year-end.
"Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiators intensified their work this week to close gaps between them... to discuss possible landing zones on remaining sensitive and challenging issues," a joint statement said, giving no substantive details.
But a Malaysian official said negotiators made little progress.