TPP talks head to the U.S. as upcoming polls cloud deal picture

Prospects for a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact deal are on the line this month in Atlanta as efforts to create one of the globe's biggest trade zones near an end game that also must factor in national elections.

Sources told the Japan Times that meetings will be held Sept. 26 to Sept. 30 at varied official levels as part of a hard push to strike a deal ahead of the Oct. 19 general election in Canada and clear passage in the United States before 2016 national elections gather primetime space.

In August, talks in Hawaii failed to reach an expected breakthrough despite earlier reports that a sticking point on the length of data exclusivity for biologic drugs had been narrowed considerably.

However, subsequent reports said that New Zealand's opposition Labour Party and the Malaysian Medical Association separately urged national negotiators to go slow on a TPP trade pact, citing worries over the potential effect on drug costs.

The TPP is a so-called 21st Century effort on trade that would cover 40% of the global economy and link top economies like the United States and Japan with nations such as Colombia, Singapore and Vietnam into a vast network of rules on tariffs and access for goods from drugs to cars.

The original TPP negotiations were launched in 2010 and involved the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Malaysia, Mexico, Canada and Japan joined the talks later.

- here's the Japan Times story