No decision has been made regarding including Japan, Mexico, and Canada to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, Michael Froman, White House deputy national security advisor for International Economic Affairs, said this week at a conference covered by Bloomberg News. It’s “too early to tell” whether the TPP should expand, he added.  “We’re proceeding down three parallel paths with them,” Froman said.  The TPP currently includes nine countries:  Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.  Japan, Mexico, and Canada have expressed interest in joining and individual governments are having bilateral talks with the three nations.

The trade-talk partners want to make sure new entrants are committed to the same goals and do not want to renegotiate settled issues, Froman explained.  The United States is discussing separate agreements with Japan, Mexico, and Canada, he added.  “I don’t think there’s any particular reason we have to hold up one or two if the third one is going to take a bit more time.”  We don’t have to address that question yet. It’s hypothetical,” Froman told the conference.

TPP negotiators met last week during the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting of trade ministers in Kazan, Russia.  Talks on the TPP  will resume in San Diego starting July 2.

In a related news, a Mexican government official said Mexico hopes to win approval to participate in the talks before President Felipe Calderon leaves office December 1.  Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States, told reporters this week. “It’s not only about the United States. It’s about nine core countries that have to bless the TPP process,”  Sarukhan said.