The United States is confident that North America can present a "united front" in the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, an effort to create a free trade area spanning the Asia-Pacific region, President Barack Obama said following the North American Summit in Toluca, Mexico.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto hosted Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Obama at Wednesday's summit, which focused on trade and investment initiatives aimed at making North America more competitive in the global economy.
"We'll get this passed if it's a good agreement," Obama said in a joint press conference on Wednesday evening.
The United States, Mexico and Canada are three of the eight nations negotiating entry into the TPP, which was initially signed by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore in 2005.
TPP members are negotiating the creation of the world's most dynamic trade zone, a market with more than 650 million people.
Washington and Mexico City argue that if they, along with Canada, join the TPP, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which took effect in 1994, will be modernized automatically, opening up new opportunities for the region.
"The key at this point is to make sure that our countries, which hold ourselves up as champions of free trade, resolve our legitimate national interests in these negotiations so that we can present a united front against a number of the other participants in the TPP negotiations who don't have as much of a tradition of free trade," Obama said.
Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan are also negotiating to enter the TPP.
"North America has this amazing competitive advantage, and we are already relatively open markets," the U.S. leader said.
Obama said there was a "shared vision" with Canada and Mexico regarding the trade pact, but Harper appeared more cautious about the TPP.
"The government of Canada's position is always clear in these matters that we will only come to an agreement when we are convinced the agreement is in the best interest of Canada," Harper said.
Peña Nieto, for his part, said Mexico was committed to making the Pacific trade deal a success.
"Mexico has made a commitment and has shown political will to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We hope that the deal happens. That is the Mexican stand, and we will work to the best of our ability to reach this goal," Peña Nieto said.
The three leaders also discussed the demonstrations in Ukraine, the protests in Venezuela and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the United States, among other issues.
The next North American Summit will be held in Canada in 2015. EFE