PM Lee, Japan's Abe discuss regional trade talks in meeting after G-20 summit

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a breakfast meeting with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Novotel Brisbane Hotel, on Nov 17, 2014. At the meeting, they spoke about regional trade agreements, including the Regional Comprehensive Eco
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a breakfast meeting with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Novotel Brisbane Hotel, on Nov 17, 2014. At the meeting, they spoke about regional trade agreements, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Mr Lee's press secretary told reporters.-- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

THE progress of trade talks in the Asia-Pacific was discussed in an early-morning meeting on Monday between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The two leaders met in Brisbane the day after the Group of 20 (G-20) summit, and spoke about regional trade agreements, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Prime Minister's press secretary told reporters.

Japan and Singapore are party to both trade pacts, which are currently being negotiated. The RCEP involves the 10 member states of Asean as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. The TPP - which aims to be a high-quality agreement - covers 12 countries in Asia and the Pacific including the United States but excluding economies like China and India.

PM Lee and Mr Abe, who last met in May during the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, noted that the RCEP was "making good progress and was important to facilitating closer trade cooperation in East Asia".

They also said the countries involved in the TPP are working hard at concluding the negotiations, but its conclusion is additionally dependent on each country's process of ratifying the treaty.

At Monday's meeting, Mr Abe reiterated Japan's commitment to regional peace and stability. Both leaders also discussed regional security and political developments.

In addition, Mr Abe noted the frequency of the close interactions between the leaders of Singapore and Japan. Singapore's Foreign Minister K Shanmugam called on Mr Abe last month when he visited Japan.

fiochan@sph.com.sg