Ministers cite progress at Pacific free trade talks – but no deal

US trade representative Michael Froman (R) and Japan's Minister of Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari attend a press conference at the Trans-Pacific Partnership ministerial meeting in Singapore on February 25, 2014Asia-Pacific trade ministers negotiating a huge US-led free trade area said Tuesday they were making headway but differences remain over market access. In a joint statement at the end of a four-day meeting in Singapore, the 12 prospective members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) said they had made “further strides towards a final agreement”. Talks in December, also in Singapore, ended with negotiators failing to meet a self-imposed deadline to reach a deal by the end of 2013. The 12 countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam — are divided on a number of issues, including the opening up of protected domestic markets such as agriculture and automobiles.

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