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Pacific Trade Pact In Limbo As Talks End Without A Deal

In a setback for the Obama administration, talks aimed at setting up a major free-trade zone among 12 Pacific Rim countries — the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership — have ended without success.

Although U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said "significant progress" had been made at this week's talks in Maui, Hawaii, and officials promised to reconvene at some future date, big differences remain among the participating countries.

They involve such issues as how long the copyright for biologic drugs should last (a big concern for the U.S. pharmaceutical industry), New Zealand's access to foreign dairy markets, and how to define the country of origin for auto manufacturers.

Because no agreement has been reached, it's unlikely that Congress will be able to vote on the trade pact this year. That will push a vote into 2016 — when the presidential election is in full swing, and when President Obama will be less than a year from leaving office.

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