A Joint Press Statement issued here Friday at the conclusion of the two-day Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting on an enormous free trade pact, saying the majority of trade-related issues are now at an advanced stage.
The statement said the TPP ministers from 12 countries - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam - have explored how to develop a mutually-acceptable package, including possible landing zones on remaining sensitive and challenging issues and sequencing of issues in the final talks.
"Particular areas of focus have included matters related to market access for goods, services/investment, financial services, and government procurement as well as the texts covering intellectual property, competition, and environmental issues", said the statement.
The TPP ministers also discussed the remaining outstanding issues on labor, dispute settlement, and other areas.
The 19th Negotiating Round for the TPP will take place here from August 24 to 31 at the International Convention Center following the two-day TPP ministerial meeting. The ministers expressed the hope that the negotiations would be concluded on the 2013 timeframe.
"We discussed how best to achieve an outcome consistent with our common goal of achieving an ambitious and balanced 21st century agreement that will enhance trade and investment among us, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs in our countries," said the joint statement.
The TPP ministers have agreed to maintain their active engagement in the lead up to the APEC leaders meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on the margins of which TPP leaders are expected to meet as they have in past years. "This meeting will be an important milestone as the 12 countries work intensively to conclude this landmark agreement," said the statement.
Elimination of tariffs will likely be on the agenda of the 19th round of TPP negotiation in Brunei, as negotiators also aim to address multiple issues surrounding the trade pact.