Asia-Pacific trade deal in 'end game' stage

Froman said there was "quite good progress" on a wide range of issues during the last round of TPP talks in Malaysia, which ended last month. 

He didn't get specific on exactly what issues would top the agenda but, instead, highlighted the quickening pace of the talks. 

"There's a good amount of momentum behind the negotiations and we want to make sure we capitalize on that momentum," he told a group of reporters on Friday. 

Besides the United States and Brunei, Australia, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, Mexico, Canada and Japan are all part of the talks. 

Japan joined the negotiations toward the end of the Malaysian round and is getting up to speed on where the trade deal stands.

On his swing through the Asia-Pacific, Froman will make a stop in Tokyo on Aug. 19 to discuss the parallel negotiations that are an extension of the TPP talks between the two nations.

The United States and Japan agreed to work on several issues outside of the TPP discussions — opening their market to U.S. beef, insurance and auto imports, among other non-tariff issues.

Wendy Cutler, a deputy trade official, spent the week in Tokyo kicking off formal talks on the major issues that, once agreed upon, will be incorporated into the TPP agreement and will be enforceable. 

"We are looking forward to Japan playing a constructive role when they come to the round in Brunei," Froman said. 

Lawmakers such as House Democrat Sandy Levin (Mich.) have been extremely critical of efforts, which have spanned more than three decades, to open up Japan's auto market. He has suggested tying Japan's progress of allowing more exports to their reach into the U.S. market. 

Froman acknowledged that "we all bear the scars of trying to open the Japan's market in the past" and the Japanese market "remains closed in a number of very important and significant ways." 

"So we go into this with our eyes wide open and we want to use TPP as an opportunity to try to make further progress toward that objective." 

A positive signal is Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to find ways, including reaching out globally, to restart his nation's long dormant economy. 

Those efforts include structural reforms that could address many of the historically thorny issues with the United States and other nations, Froman said. 

Froman also is expected to swing through Ethiopia to discuss the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The trip which include discussiosn with the economic ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), who also will be meeting in Brunei.