The twelve countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) reaffirmed their commitment to finalise a regional free trade agreement this year when they wrapped up the ministerial meeting of the 19th round of TPP negotiations in Brunei on August 23.

The ministers said in a joint statement that TPP countries have explored how to promote a mutually acceptable package, with the focus on the key spheres of market access , financial services, government procurement and intellectual property.

They agreed to maintain active engagement until the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ meeting, scheduled for October in Bali, Indonesia, adding that the TPP countries’ leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of this meeting.

The 19 th round of TPP negotiations, which lasts from August 22-30, will focus on 10 issues, including intellectual property rights, state-owned businesses and tariffs.

Besides official meetings, ministers and ministerial-level officials of the TPP member nations will also hold bilateral sessions to present their requests and offers related to tariffs.

TPP member countries currently include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. The 12 countries create a market of 792 million people and account for about one third of global trade.

Once established, TPP is expected to further boost economic integration, towards the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement.-VNA