Wrapping up three days of talks in Sydney, ministers in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations issued a joint statement today announcing the progress made on component parts of the trade deal “which will define, shape and integrate the TPP region once the agreement comes into force.”
The final shape of the ambitious trade initiative is “crystallizing,” the ministers said, adding they will meet again in the coming weeks. While the statement largely emphasizes advances in the talks, ministers also indicated they will “work intensely with each other to resolve outstanding issues.”
Key trade policy differences continue to exist between the U.S. and Japan – the two largest countries involved in the talks – over access to each other’s markets in sectors such as agriculture and automobiles.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman is cited by Reuters as saying that by definition the issues left at the end of any negotiation are those that are the most difficult to solve.
“We certainly have outstanding issues with Japan on market access - on agriculture, on autos and we are not done yet,” he said. “And while we are making progress, we are not at a satisfactory resolution yet and that’s why the work is going to continue.”