The president has sought during stops in Japan, Korea and Malaysia
to bolster the U.S. security commitment to Asia, where a rising
China has made many U.S. allies nervous. But he has also used the
trip as an effort to advance economic exchanges, with mixed results.
A hoped for trade pact failed to come to fruition despite
round-the-clock negotiations in Japan. Officials said they had made
progress that would bring Japan into the 12-country Trans Pacific
Partnership (TPP), which commits countries to lower import tariffs
and to dropping other impediments to imports.
Obama presided over a ceremony in which three deals worth nearly $2
billion were inked. The agreements paved the way for aviation,
pharmaceutical, and insurance business between U.S. And
"These deals reflect our commitment to stepping up our game," he
The president said the conclusion of the TPP would produce jobs and
higher living standards in the United States, and he pledged to work
toward concluding the accord.
Malaysia is participating in negotiations to create the TPP. South
Korea, which is implementing a bilateral trade accord with the
United States, has expressed interest in joining as well.
Domestic constituencies have raised objections to the trade accord
in many countries negotiating the deal. Obama, whose own Democratic
Party has balked at supporting efforts to move forward on TPP, was
reminded of that when anti-TPP demonstrators caused a distraction at
a town hall meeting he held on Sunday with young people at the
University of Malaya.
[to top of second column]
The deals were between General Electric Co. and AirAsia X, Verdezyne
and Sime Darby, and MetLife and AmBank Group.
GE will supply engines and maintenance for 25 new Airbus A330
aircraft for AirAsia; plantations-to-motoring conglomerate Sime
Darby will take a stake in San Diego biotechnology start-up
Verdezyne to work on a project to convert palm oil waste into
industrial chemicals; and Metlife will cooperate with Malaysia's
fifth-largest banking group AmBank on insurance and savings
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; editing by Alex Richardson)
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