Progress made on regional trade talks held in Singapore: MTI

Good progress on trade talks has been made by a key regional grouping after 10 days of intensive negotiations in Singapore, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

The 16th round of Trans-Pacific Partnership talks involved more than 600 delegates from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the United States, Singapore and Vietnam.

Solid advancements were made in a number of areas such as telecommunications, regulatory coherence and customs and development, the Ministry said.

Talks on services, e-commerce, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade and government procurement also continued in earnest.

Ms Ng Bee Kim, Singapore's chief negotiator, said: "There was a distinct sense that negotiations were shifting gears."

Ms Ng, who is also MTI's director-general of trade, added that one innovation was having some working groups break into smaller informal meetings to "tease out the more difficult issues with fresh eyes".

This assisted with moving the talks along, she noted.

The countries recognise that challenges remain in areas such as intellectual property, environment, competition and labour, which will need more deliberation.

The next round of talks will be held in Lima, Peru in May.