Talks aimed at drawing up a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement have hit a number of “sticking points” including apparel and footwear.

Trade Ministers from 12 countries failed to reach a final agreement during talks in Singapore on 22-25 February, but said progress had been made, despite a number of remaining sticking points, including apparel and footwear.

The talks followed a letter sent by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and more than 40 other trade associations backing the TPP agreement, but expressing concern that countries such as Japan would not support full market access.

Meanwhile, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) reiterated its support for a robust TPP agreement, with vice president for international trade Stephanie Lester saying: “Immediate duty-free market access for apparel is a priority for retailers in the TPP.

“Duty-free market access would benefit hard-working American families, both in billions of dollars in duty savings and in supporting millions of American jobs that are part of the apparel global value chains.”

The next round of TPP talks is likely to take place in April, followed by a full TPP Ministerial meeting in May.

Meanwhile, the various countries involved are aiming to resolve outstanding issues in bilateral discussions.