Trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman agreed Sunday to work together toward concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks by the end of the year.
Meeting before the 19th round of the talks, which are aimed at forging one of the largest free trade areas in the world, the two reaffirmed their commitment to the target set by the 12 members of the TPP, which began more than 3 years ago.
Motegi said he told Froman that the Japanese government has decided to “work toward concluding a TPP deal within this year constructively and proactively.”
“We made a commitment to work together,” he said after the meeting.
Earlier this month, Japan and the United States held the first round of bilateral trade negotiations on autos and nontariff barriers in parallel with the TPP negotiations.
Motegi said he wants to accelerate the bilateral talks as well.
On Monday, Froman, who is visiting Japan for the first time as U.S. trade representative, is scheduled to meet with other government members, including TPP minister Akira Amari, who will attend one of the ministerial meetings at the upcoming Brunei round.
Japan became the 12th member of the TPP talks during the last round in July but only entered at the tail end. This means the Brunei round from Aug. 22 to Aug. 30 will be Japan’s first full round.
The TPP members are expected to negotiate on tariffs and make requests and offers in bilateral sessions over the nine-day period.
The current TPP members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.