• Kyodo

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Finance Minister Taro Aso and U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have agreed that their governments should work on concluding a sweeping Pacific free trade pact at an early date, according to the two governments.

Aso told reporters Friday that he discussed with Lew the need to quickly strike a deal on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership pact with 10 other countries, during a meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 talks in Ankara.

The U.S. Treasury Department said Lew told Aso he is “hopeful that TPP negotiations would conclude as soon as possible.”

The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim countries held ministerial TPP talks in Hawaii in July, but failed to reach a deal after the marathon negotiations. The trade pact would cover some 40 percent of global output.

The 12 countries have yet to even decide when to reconvene, fueling concern the talks have been shelved, at least for the time being, as U.S. political attention shifts to the run-up to next year’s presidential election.

It has been more than 5½ years since the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam launched the TPP negotiations in March 2010. Malaysia, Mexico, Canada and Japan joined the dialogue later.

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