Japan's Economy Minister Akira Amari says there has been progress in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations although it will be difficult to reach an agreement by the end of the year, according to media reports.
Trade ministers from New Zealand and 11 other nations participating in the Asia-Pacific regional trade pact held talks on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Beijing, Reuters reported.
The agreement was stalled in September, as the two biggest economies, the US and Japan, blamed the other for a stalemate over farming tariffs.
Japan wanted to protect goods, including beef, pork, rice and dairy, while the US sought to protect US carmakers from Japanese competition.
In New Zealand, organisers of a protest yesterday against the TPP (sometimes called the TPPA) said it would let foreign investors challenge New Zealand law, make medicines more expensive and undermine the Resource Management Act.
But in September this year, Trade Minister Tim Groser said New Zealand's farmers' stood to gain handsomely from access to some of the world's wealthiest, yet most protected, economies.
Last month, Mr Groser said that medicines would not be made more expensive if New Zealand signed up to the agreement.
Speaking at the APEC gathering in Beijing, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the agreement would help all participating countries to prosper together.
"TPP will build prosperity and ensure prosperity - and stability - throughout the region and it will do so based on shared principles and shared values," he said.
"It is not just a technical trade agreement. It is a strategic opportunity for all of us and we need to make sure we seize it."