Echoing his talks with the trade minister the previous day, economic and fiscal policy minister Akira Amari and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman agreed Monday to work together toward a successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks by the end of the year.
Amari, who doubles as TPP minister, and Froman are scheduled to attend the ministerial meeting on the first two days of the upcoming Brunei round from Aug. 22 through 30.
Aiming to forge one of the largest free trade areas in the world, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to working side by side with 10 other members toward the conclusion.
“As the TPP is crucial in promoting competition and expanding trade and investment in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region, we confirmed we will actively cooperate with other participating countries to successfully conclude the TPP negotiations,” Amari said after the hourlong meeting.
Their meeting came after the two largest TPP economies last month held their first round of bilateral trade negotiations on autos and nontariff barriers in parallel with the TPP negotiations.
After meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga earlier Monday, Froman told reporters, “We agreed to work very closely together on the issues of TPP and in the parallel negotiations to resolve our outstanding issues and to achieve a high-standard ambitious agreement this year.”
Froman, who is visiting Japan for the first time after taking up the current post in June, also reiterated the significance of the TPP as he met with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in the afternoon and with trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Sunday.
The member countries are aiming to conclude a deal by the end of the year, although there has been some skepticism about meeting the target in recent months.
Japan became the 12th member of the TPP talks near the end of the Malaysia round in July, making the Brunei round the first in which it will fully take part.
In Brunei, the member countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam — are expected to negotiate on tariffs in bilateral sessions over the nine days.