Twelve Pacific Rim nations failed to agree on the biggest trade deal in history Friday, after a week of intense negotiations.
Representatives from countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, Mexico and Japan, debated the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Hawaii.
Many of the negotiators voice optimism over concluding the pact. Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said "98 percent is concluded," and he blamed the "big four" economies in the group - the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico - for the failure to reach a final deal.
Disputes continued between Japan and North America over auto trade, New Zealand refused to change its position over dairy trade, and no agreement was reached on monopoly periods for next-generation drugs.
"The undergrowth has been cleared away in the course of this meeting in a manner that I would say is streets ahead of any of the other ministerial meetings that we have had," New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said.
"You can see clearly that there are one or two really hard issues, and one of them is dairy."
The TTP seeks to combine bilateral issues of market access for exports with one-size-fits-all standards on issues ranging from workers' rights to environmental protection and dispute settlement between governments and foreign investors.
The deal will allow corporations to sue governments in private tribunals for obstructing future profits, which, according to critics, will impede on citizens’ rights, especially in the realms of health, environment and safety.
A further controversy to rock the talks was WikiLeaks’ posting of documents on Friday that the website claims are proof the U.S. government spied on Japanese government officials and Japanese companies over the pact.
Alleged National Security Agency notes, some as much as a decade old, include a list of Japanese telephone numbers to target.
"The reports demonstrate the depth of US surveillance of the Japanese government, indicating that intelligence was gathered and processed from numerous Japanese government ministries and offices," WikiLeaks said in a statement. "The documents demonstrate intimate knowledge of internal Japanese deliberations."
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