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Indonesia intends to join Pacific trade deal

Updated: 2015-10-27 09:00

WASHINGTON - Indonesia intends to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that was reached between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries earlier this month, visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Monday.

"Indonesia is an open economy, and with the 250 million population we are the largest economy in Southeast Asia," Widodo said through a translator after a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House. "And Indonesia intends to join the TPP."

Widodo's remarks come as the Obama administration is facing pressure from trading partners, lawmakers and stakeholders to release the TPP text as soon as possible.

While negotiations on the TPP deal, which covers about 40 percent of global economic output, concluded on Oct 5, officials from the 12 TPP countries are still drafting parts of the final text of the agreement.

When the final TPP text is revealed, TPP member countries will have to gain domestic approval of the deal and to implement the commitments their negotiators have undertaken.

"While our focus is on the domestic procedures for TPP approval, we will, of course, continue sharing information about TPP with Indonesia and other interested parties," US Trade Representative Michael Froman said Monday.

While US officials have touted the trade deal with Pacific Rim countries as a means to create jobs and write the rules of international trade, labor unions, environmental groups, consumer and heath care organizations across the country have come out against it out of various concerns.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said this month that she's "not in favor of" the TPP deal, noting that she doesn't believe the deal will meet her "high bar" for creating good American jobs, raising wages and advancing national security.

As the TPP could become one of the hot-button issues in the US presidential campaign, it will be very difficult for US Congress to pass the trade deal next year. Actual entry into force of the TPP is not expected before 2017, experts said.

The TPP deal involves Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

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