NEW YORK – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden agreed Tuesday that the two countries will cooperate to conclude talks on a Pacific free trade initiative this week, both governments said.
Biden and Abe agreed that their negotiating teams for the Trans-Pacific Partnership would work closely together “with the goal of resolving the limited number of outstanding issues at the upcoming ministers meeting in Atlanta,” according to the White House.
Abe and Biden met before ministers from Japan, the United States and 10 other TPP member countries resume their negotiations in Atlanta on Wednesday.
A Japanese official who attended the meeting quoted Biden as saying that the 12 countries engaged in TPP talks should strike a deal on this opportunity.
Abe told Biden that it is important to dispatch a forward-looking message to the world by reaching a deal early, Katsunobu Kato, deputy chief Cabinet secretary, told reporters. The envisioned Pacific free trade zone would cover some 40 percent of the global economy.
Abe and Biden pledged “utmost cooperation” between Japan and the United States over TPP-related issues, Kato added.
The 10 other TPP member countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.