10:30 GMT25 February 2020
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    The idea of free trade mega-agreements between the United States, Europe and Pacific Rim nations emerged and gained ground due to frustration over a lack of progress on multilateral trading arrangements, former US Trade Representative Susan Schwab told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    GENEVA (Sputnik) — There is no guarantee that talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) will be concluded in two weeks, former US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, who initiated the deal, told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    On Sunday, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Phil Hogan said TPP negotiations should conclude within the next two weeks.

    "I assume they are trying to close the deal, but there is never a guarantee," Schwab observed.

    TPP is a controversial trade deal between 12 pacific rim countries, including the United States, Australia and Canada, with a stated goal of promoting regional growth and economic integration.

    Labor unions and rights watchdog groups criticize the deal for the unusual secrecy in which it has been negotiated and for the uncertain implications for workers’ rights, employment relations and the environment.

    TPP talks between trade ministers restarted on Wednesday as officials seek to smooth out the remaining issues preventing the hotly-contested agreement from ratification.  

    Global Trade Treaties Stem From Frustration Over Multilateral Formats 

    The idea of free trade mega-agreements between the United States, Europe and Pacific Rim nations emerged and gained ground due to frustration over a lack of progress on multilateral trading arrangements, former US Trade Representative Susan Schwab told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    TTIP and TPP are wide-ranging and hotly-debated trade agreements currently being negotiated in unusual secrecy by the United States with the European Union and Pacific region states. Unconfirmed reports of the terms of the deals say that they seek to liberalize trade but are criticized for bypassing the World Trade Organization (WTO) framework and excluding the BRICS emerging economies.

    "From my perspective, these agreements are second-best alternatives. The best outcome, I think, is the multilateral outcome. Countries like the US and others that are engaged in these bilateral deals have come to these deals out of the frustration for the lack of progress on the multilateral basis," Schwab said.

    The former US trade representative, who initiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, noted that if there was more progress on a multilateral basis to eliminate trade barriers, "these bilateral and regional deals would not be proliferating the way they are."

    Talks on the controversial TPP trade deal restarted Wednesday. Negotiations have been held for years in extremely strict secrecy, prompting condemnations from labor unions and human rights watchdogs over its uncertain implications for workers’ rights, employment relations and the environment.

    The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States, has a stated aim of creating the world's largest free trade zone, accounting for some 60 percent of global production.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    economy, trade, TPP, Pacific, United States
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