Japanese Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari said Wednesday that 12 countries negotiating a Pacific Rim free trade initiative can reach a broad agreement by the end of July, as U.S. Congress has neared final passage of a bill that is crucial to concluding the pact.
“I think a ministerial meeting (of the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership countries) will be held in July,” Amari told reporters in Tokyo. “We need to reach a broad agreement in July. I think that is possible,” he said.
Amari’s remarks came after the U.S. Senate endorsed on Tuesday a plan to wrap up deliberations and take a revote on the bill, now expected Wednesday, to grant President Barack Obama authority to sign trade deals, including the U.S.-led TPP, without amendments in Congress.
If the bill, known as Trade Promotion Authority, is enacted, “each nation will play the last card and we will make substantial progress toward conclusion (of the TPP talks),” said Amari, who is in charge of the TPP negotiations.
He said Japan does not expect “at all” a ministerial meeting to be pushed back to August, but added Tokyo will stay cautious until the TPA legislation takes effect with Obama’s signature.
The TPP involves Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.