Late delay as Pacific trade talks near landmark deal

via Yahoo News

ATLANTA (Reuters) – A dozen Pacific nations closed in on a sweeping free-trade pact on Sunday in Atlanta but failed to finalize terms on the fifth day of round-the-clock talks, dashing hopes raised by an earlier breakthrough on protections for new biotech drugs.

U.S. officials, who are hosting the meeting, delayed a planned joint news conference until early Monday.

That pushed a resolution of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks beyond the deadline set by Japan’s economy minister Akira Amari. On Saturday, Amari had said the next 24 hours would be a make-or-break period for the talks.

After five years of negotiations, many officials had described this round as the best chance for an agreement, so failure to strike a deal in Atlanta would plunge the future of the talks into uncertainty.

Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said the delay on Sunday came as other TPP partners reviewed the proposed terms of a compromise on the monopoly period available for drug companies that develop new drugs known as biologics.

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