TPP ministers vow to end talks by year’s end

JIJI

Ministers of the 12 countries involved in Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations vowed Friday to speed up the talks and conclude them by year’s end.

In a joint statement released after their two-day meeting in Brunei’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, the ministers said they instructed negotiators from the 12 TPP member countries to boost efforts toward successfully wrapping up the talks on schedule.

The ministers “explored how to develop a mutually acceptable package, including possible landing zones on remaining sensitive and challenging issues,” the statement said.

“We discussed how best to achieve an outcome consistent with our common goal of achieving an ambitious and balanced 21st-century agreement that will enhance trade and investment among us, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs in our countries,” it said.

While noting that particular areas of focus include tariff elimination and reductions, financial services and government procurement, the ministers stressed, “We have agreed to maintain our active engagement” in the lead-up to an October summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Indonesia, where leaders from the 12 countries in the TPP negotiations are slated to hold a meeting.

“This meeting will be an important milestone as the 12 countries work intensively to conclude this landmark agreement,” they said.