Pritzker urges Abe to take bold steps to complete Asia-Pacific trade deal

A top Obama administration official on Monday urged Japan to continue making strides toward completing a massive trade deal aimed at opening markets from Asia to Latin America. 

Commerce Secretary Penny PritzkerPenny Sue PritzkerDNC hauls in .5 million in June Michelle Obama officiated Chicago wedding: report Election Countdown: Trump plans ambitious travel schedule for midterms | Republicans blast strategy for keeping House | Poll shows Menendez race tightening | Cook Report shifts Duncan Hunter's seat after indictment MORE met on Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and urged the two nations "to be creative and bold" in the final stages of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.  

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Abe expressed his desire to complete an "ambitious, high-standard agreement as soon as possible," the Commerce Department said in a statement.

Negotiations on the 12-nation TPP resume this week in Vietnam and Australia.

U.S. and Japanese officials held four days of bilateral talks last week and made progress on some issues, but work remains on auto and agriculture market access issues, officials said.  

During the Monday meeting, Pritzker underscored the White House's commitment to the Asia-Pacific region and the need to strengthen the longstanding alliance between two of the world's largest economies and strategic partnerships across the region.

She told Abe that U.S. businesses are eager to help Japan boost its efforts to overhaul and strengthen its healthcare and energy sectors.

Pritzker is on a two-nation trip to Korea and Japan, her first to Tokyo since she joined the Obama administration, with representatives of 20 U.S. firms, some with longstanding relationships in the region and others looking for new opportunities.

President Obama spoke to Abe last week about several issues, including the TPP, and the two leaders agreed on the economic and strategic importance of the deal.

The president urged Abe to be "bold" in the negotiations arguing that their partnership is the cornerstone of U.S. engagement with the region.