US Treasury chief visits Asia next week to discuss regional trade pact, gauge China reforms

WASHINGTON – Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew makes a five-nation swing through Asia next week and will reiterate that completion of an ambitious trans-Pacific trade pact by the year’s end remains a top U.S. priority.

Lew will also visit China to discuss the results of a high-level Communist party meeting expected to unveil key economic reforms this weekend.

Lew begins his trip in Japan Tuesday. He then travels to Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, before visiting China.

All those nations except China are in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which aims to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers.

Finalizing such a highly complex agreement by year’s end — a goal reaffirmed by leaders of the 12 participating nations last month — remains a tough task.