TPP ministerial meeting may be held in Brunei

Kyodo

Governments involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade negotiations may hold ministerial-level talks in Brunei next month in an apparent bid to forge a deal this year in the face of overwhelming difficulties, official sources said Monday.

The 12-country ministerial meeting would be held Aug. 22 and 23 in Bandar Seri Begawan, taking advantage of the ministers’ presence in Brunei’s capital for the annual ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting, or AEM, scheduled for Aug. 18 to 21, the sources said.

Brunei is consulting TPP members on the proposal, they said.

Meanwhile, Japanese sources said Tokyo, which joined the negotiations for the first time last week, plans to send TPP minister Akiri Amari to the proposed ministerial meeting if it takes place.

As announced at the latest round of TPP negotiations in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, chief negotiators and other officials involved in various TPP working groups will hold their next round of negotiations in Bandar Seri Begawan from Aug. 22 to 30, starting the same day as the proposed ministerial meeting.

The AEM that would precede it involves ministers of nine of the 12 TPP members — Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, which are all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which are all ASEAN dialogue partners.

The TPP negotiations also involve Chile, Peru and Mexico.