NUSA DUA, Indonesia, (PNA/Kyodo) –Ministers of the 12 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade negotiations continued work to compile work plans for advancing talks on tariffs and other contentious areas on Sunday on the Indonesian island of Bali with an aim of concluding a deal by the year-end.
The work plans for eliminating tariffs and setting rules for intellectual property rights protection among others will be reported to the leaders arriving for a TPP summit on Tuesday as scheduled, despite U.S. President Barack Obama’s cancellation of his trip to Bali due to the partial shutdown of the federal government over a budget impasse, officials said.
Before the third and the last day of the ministerial meeting began, Japan’s TPP minister Akira Amari told reporters in the morning TPP members are making progress in the talks and Obama’s absence will not affect their aim of reaching a deal this year.
“We were shocked that President Obama could not make it, but we quickly decided that we will maintain the momentum” of the negotiations, Amari said.
Saying the talks have been “moving forward steadily,” Amari added, “We will make last-minute adjustments between the ministers so that (the meeting) will be a great step forward toward achieving the year-end conclusion.”
The ministerial meeting began Thursday and was also held on Friday. The meeting, together with the preceding meeting of chief negotiators and the summit, are being held on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
With the submission of the report to the leaders, the leaders are expected to announce that the members’ work on TPP has been substantively finished, according to negotiation sources.
The ministerial report will be announced together with the leaders’ statement at the end of the TPP summit.
The 12 TPP countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam — have been aiming to reach a broad agreement in October.