• Kyodo

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The Japanese and Mexican foreign ministers agreed Tuesday to coordinate on the steady enforcement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and expand the 11-party free trade agreement’s membership.

During their meeting in Mexico, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told his counterpart Marcelo Ebrard that Japan wants to closely cooperate to maintain and strengthen the free and open economic framework, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

Japan, which succeeded Mexico this year as chair of the regional FTA, formally called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, is expected to lead talks to expand the group’s membership.

Britain, China and South Korea have recently shown interest in joining the TPP, while Japanese officials are keeping close tabs on whether Washington will return to the framework under the incoming U.S. administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The TPP groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It came into effect in December 2018 after the United States withdrew in 2017.

Motegi and Ebrard also agreed to cooperate in addressing North Korea’s nuclear development and global issues such as climate change, with Mexico joining the U.N. Security Council as a nonpermanent member for 2021 and 2022, the ministry said.

In a separate meeting with economy minister Tatiana Clouthier, Motegi urged Mexico to improve the business environment for the around 1,300 Japanese companies operating in the country, the ministry said.

Mexico is the first stop of an 11-day trip that will also take Motegi to Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Senegal, Nigeria and Kenya.

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