U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Thursday Indo-Pacific Economic Framework trade negotiations could deliver results by the end of the year to set economic rules and standards in the fast-growing region.
The U.S.-led initiative comprising 14 nations is widely viewed as a counterweight to China's growing clout in the Indo-Pacific region, which accounts for about 40 percent of the global economy.
Tai told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo that negotiations, which started last year, are moving at a very quick pace.
"I'm very optimistic that you will see results soon and maybe even over the course of this year," Tai said.
The negotiations of the IPEF center around four policy pillars -- fair trade, supply chain resilience, clean energy with decarbonization and infrastructure, as well as proper taxation and anti-corruption.
Tai has not ruled out the possibility of announcing an agreement on some areas ahead of the others as the pace of negotiations differs among the various fields.
The third round of IPEF negotiations are slated for next month in Singapore.
During her two-day trip to Japan, Tai held talks with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, affirming close cooperation in the months ahead, as Japan hosts the Group of Seven nations' summit in Hiroshima in May and the United States hosts a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum economies in San Francisco in November.
After former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew his country from what was then known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal in 2017, Biden launched the IPEF during his visit to Japan last May in a bid to strengthen economic ties with key economies in the Indo-Pacific.
The IPEF currently groups Australia, Brunei, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. Canada is also seeking to join the framework.
Japan, U.S. affirm stronger ties in Indo-Pacific trade negotiations