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August 16, 2012

Top Senate lawmaker heads to the Pacific Rim to talk trade

A top Senate lawmaker is heading to the Pacific Rim to discuss strengthening U.S. trade ties within the region. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) heads to New Zealand and Japan on Friday to meet with senior economic and trade leaders and to talk about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free-trade agreement still in negotiations. 

“The Asia Pacific region will drive the next wave of economic growth, so we have to strengthen our trade ties with countries like Japan and New Zealand to stay competitive," Baucus said. 

"Every bit of ground we gain boosting our exports means new jobs in the U.S.,” he said.  

Baucus called the TPP "a window of opportunity for our exports to reach new consumers in markets across the Pacific."

Negotiators, who will continue talks next month in Leesburg, Va., have said they would like to reach an agreement by the end of the year. 

The deal is between the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, and seeks to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade in the region as an avenue to reviving the world economy. 

Canada and Mexico have been approved by the nations to join the talks.

Japan also has expressed interest in joining the discussions, and Baucus will meet with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Economic and Trade Minister Yukio Edano about the possibility of Tokyo joining the negotiations in the future.

U.S. automakers and some lawmakers have expressed concern that Japan's economy restricts U.S. and other exports and that the nation would need to agree to open its markets before being green-lighted to join the TPP talks. 

While in Japan, Baucus will tour a Tesla Motors facility that will sell electric automobiles made in the United States and will be exported to Japan. 

Japan is the world’s third largest economy, with U.S. exports totaling $113 billion in 2011.  

During his trip to New Zealand, Baucus will meet with Prime Minister John Key and Trade Minister Tim Groser. 

The United States is New Zealand’s third-largest trading partner, with exports amounting to $4.4 billion in 2010.   

View article here.