Twelve countries in Pacific free trade talks are making arrangements to hold a ministerial meeting from Oct. 25 to 27 in Australia, negotiation sources said Wednesday, as the United States rushes to nail down a substantial outcome before the U.S. midterm elections in November.
The ministerial gathering, the first since May, will likely be preceded by a meeting of chief negotiators from member countries of the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative, the sources added.
The ministers will aim to solve outstanding issues before a summit meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in November in Beijing, where U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders from TPP countries will gather.
Obama has said he envisions the 12 countries producing some sort of documents on a TPP agreement in time for the APEC summit in November.
It is highly uncertain, however, whether major progress can be made at the three-day meeting in Australia, as Japan and the United States, the two biggest economies in the TPP, failed last month to resolve their differences over market access for agricultural products and autos — sticking points hampering the broad negotiations.
The 12 countries are also struggling to find common ground over such issues as intellectual property rights.
The TPP member countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Peru, the United States and Vietnam.