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Pacific trade talks fall short on environmental protection, say green groups

Published on Jan 16, 2014 11:55 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - An ambitious trade pact being negotiated among Pacific Rim nations so far fails to properly protect endangered species and could undermine existing safeguards for the environment, environmental groups said on Wednesday.

Documents released by the whistle-blowing group WikiLeaks show countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) did not plan to sanction trading partners who break environmental promises - an issue that has caused a rift between the United States and others in the bloc and is an obstacle to finalising the deal.

The TPP would cover almost 40 per cent of the global economy and create a free trade zone reaching from North America to Japan and New Zealand, and the United States is keen to wrap up talks in the coming months.

But the World Wildlife Fund said a November draft of the environment chapter text, which was among the documents released by WikiLeaks, lacked teeth and showed countries were backsliding on past promises and their responsibility to stamp out trade in endangered species.

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