[3 September/NZ Herald]

The ongoing trade war and a thaw in ties between China and Japan raised prospects for the world’s biggest regional free trade deal. Singaporean Trade and Industry Minister, Chan Chun Sing, said negotiators from 16 likely signatories of the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreed on key elements of the deal at a recent meeting. He added they were looking for broad agreement between the leaders. The deal had been under negotiation for years but no deal had been reached. Former director of a research institute under China’s Ministry of Commerce, Huo Jianguo, said China needed a breakthrough in the deal urgently. Negotiations were tripped by just how much each country needed to open up its markets. Mr Huo said interim arrangements could allow for gradual opening.