Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb said Friday the 12 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement are closer to concluding a deal, but perhaps not by the end of this year.
"On the TPP I think it's certainly at a stage where we could see a conclusion, if the political will is there, there is a possibility. I think we would be 85 to 90 percent of the way to a final document,"
he said at a press conference in Singapore after a meeting on cooperation between the two countries in a broad range of areas.
Aside from bilateral issues, the TPP, in which both countries are involved, was also discussed at the meeting.
He said there are still outstanding market access issues that remain to be resolved, but "countries have reached a position where we can see that an end is in sight."
He added, however, the TPP negotiations may not be concluded soon.
"I don't think it's distinctly possible to close this thing off by November, December," he admitted.
TPP observers are watching closely if the TPP leaders might be able to announce some kind of agreement despite the obstacles in areas such as market access when they meet in China for the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in November.
The 12 TPP negotiating countries are the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Chile, Peru, Canada and Mexico.