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PM Lee 'not very optimistic' about getting TPP ratified before Jan 2017
PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong remains hopeful that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact can be ratified before January 2017, but he is "not very optimistic" about that possibility.
United States President Barack Obama is due to leave the White House in January, to make way for his country's new leader after this November's elections.
The US is the chief negotiator for the TPP, which also includes Singapore and 10 other Pacific Rim nations. The deal, which accounts for 40 per cent of global GDP, was formally signed by trade ministers in Auckland in February.
"Now, you have got to get ratification and you do not have a lot of time before November. Some people hope that you can settle it before January. I hope so, but I am not very optimistic," said Mr Lee in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in New York.
The full transcript of the interview was released to the Singapore media on Friday morning.
"But I think it is important you do ratify this and not either let it stand for years unsettled or, worse, at some point, say 'We are not satisfied, let us come back. I am asking for an even better deal'. Because that would considerably undermine American credibility and seriousness of purpose and confidence in America all over the region," he said.
Mr Lee added that Singapore views the TPP as a strategic move, and not just an economic one.
"It is a demonstration with substance that America wants to deepen its relationship with many of the important economies in the region," he said.