U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he sees momentum building for a Washington-backed free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific, after arriving in Beijing on the first leg of an eight-day Asia tour.
U.S officials had ruled out a major announcement on the ambitious 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Beijing, where Obama will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.
But business leaders attending the APEC forum have been looking for signs of progress on the TPP, especially as China is pushing for a separate trade liberalization framework called the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).
Obama said the TPP, in a deadlock largely due to disagreement between the United States and Japan over how widely Japan will open its doors to farm exports, had the potential to be an "historic achievement".
"During the past few weeks our teams have made good progress in resolving several outstanding issues regarding a potential agreement. Today is an opportunity for us at the political level to break some remaining logjams," Obama said at a meeting of TPP leaders at the U.S. embassy.
"What we are seeing is momentum building around a Trans-Pacific Partnership that can spur greater economic growth, spur greater jobs growth, set high standards for trade and investment throughout the Asia-Pacific."
Some see a proposed study on the FTAA