SINGAPORE: Negotiators are “very close” to completing a US-led Pacific trade pact this year, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said ahead of a crucial meeting in the city-state this weekend. Trade ministers from 12 countries will meet from Saturday to Tuesday in a bid to iron out kinks in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), after negotiators failed to meet a self-imposed deadline to strike a deal by the end of last year. “I think we are very close to completing it,” Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview with Chinese media group Caixin. “I think, notwithstanding the previous missed targets, I think they are trying very hard, and we ought to be able to close this year,” Lee said in the interview, a transcript of which was sent by his office to Agence France-Presse on Tuesday. Trade ministers from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam are reconvening in Singapore after ending talks in December with several issues still unresolved. The 12 countries, which make up 40 percent of the global economy, have been divided on a number of issues, including opening up Japan’s auto and farm markets as well as… Read full this story
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