Ministers in the ongoing Pacific free trade talks said Monday the ambitious initiative is taking shape after their three-day meeting in Sydney, but some contentious issues still need to be resolved before a deal is clinched, with the trade chiefs expected to meet again next month.
The shape of a Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is “crystallizing,” the ministers said in a joint statement issued after their first gathering since May, adding they “will meet again in the coming weeks.”
Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb signaled they will gather in Beijing on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum next month, but remained mum about whether a TPP leaders’ summit will also take place in the Chinese capital.
“We are seeing great preparedness to make some of the difficult decisions, a willingness to compromise to get to the final decisions,” Robb told a joint press conference.
But “there is a lot of work to be done between now and the APEC,” he added.
U.S. President Barack Obama said earlier he wanted a document adopted on the ambitious free trade pact in time for his trip to the Chinese capital.
While the ministers largely emphasized advances in the talks, already in their fifth year, Japan and the United States failed to reach a much-awaited bilateral agreement seen as vital to advance the broad 12-country negotiations.