Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to work toward wrapping up a 12-nation trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in the near future.

They also presided over the signing of 14 cooperation agreements in the oil, education, health and agricultural sectors and the areas of environmental protection and renewable-energy promotion.

In a message to the media after the accords were signed, Abe said he and Peña Nieto agreed during Friday's meeting to work together to help ensure the proposed TPP, which is to link 12 economies of the Pacific Basin, is signed shortly.

The TPP negotiations involving Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam have hit a snag, however, due in large part to the Japanese government's desire to maintain its barriers to farm imports.

Peña Nieto's administration has expressed confidence that the ambitious trade accord will be signed before year's end.

Both leaders also pledged to continue to review the bilateral Economic Association Agreement that Mexico and Japan signed a decade ago.

Peña Nieto noted that bilateral trade has risen by 64 percent since then and totaled nearly $20 billion last year.

Japan is Mexico's fourth-largest trade partner overall and second-biggest in Asia after China. More than 800 Japanese companies have set up operations in Mexico, with 20 percent of them arriving in the past two years.

The instruments signed Friday, Peña Nieto said, will help strengthen bilateral cooperation.

"There will be more academic exchanges," greater access to the Japanese market for small and medium-sized enterprises, a greater push for renewable energy and the development of sustainable agricultural models, the president said.

For his part, Abe referred to the shared commitment to spur "collaboration and investment promotion in the oil and shale gas area."

Mexico's recent energy overhaul, approved late last year, ends state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos' monopoly and will allow private companies to develop crude reserves for the first time since 1938.

The Japanese prime minister began his first official visit to Mexico on Friday morning.

Mexico is Abe's first stop on a tour of Latin America that will also take him to Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Chile and Brazil and which is aimed at promoting cooperation with that region. EFE