Talks to establish a free trade bloc among a dozen nations around the Pacific Rim have made "significant progress," despite not yet culminating in a deal, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told CNBC on Tuesday.
Trade representatives from 12 countries will meet again in January to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which seeks to establish a free trade bloc between countries within the Asia-Pacific region and the U.S., Australia and Canada.
Trade ministers from the countries did not agree on the pact after four days of negotiations in Singapore this week. The deal now looks set to miss a year-end deadline.
But despite this, Froman said the meeting was "terrific."
"Twelve ministers worked through all the various outstanding issues from market access to rules, and made significant process in doing so," he told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday.
"We made very good progress and we made the concerted decision together that since TPP is about achieving a high-standard, ambitious and comprehensive agreement, it was most important to keep working towards that agreement -- and that's what we did."
He said more work had to be done to ensure bilateral market access for the countries involved, and stressed that ministers would "push towards a solution" at their next meeting.
"We're working on market access and ensuring that we're opening them for our exports to support job creation and to promote growth -- and to allow us to help our farmers, workers and ranchers to enjoy some of the fastest growing markets in the world," he added.
Froman said that, for its part, the U.S. wanted to set high standards about how trade should be conducted.
"We want to make sure we're serving our interests and our values, raising labor and environment standards and making sure there's access to medicines, as well as support for innovation… These are all the sorts of issues we're dealing with in these negotiations," he said.
His comments come amid a flurry of high-profile international trade summits and negotiations.
Trade talks between 159 countries belonging to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) last week culminated in the first global trade deal within the group since it was formed in 1995, which the WTO said could add $1 trillion to the global economy.
(Read more: WTO trade deal: What you need to know)
Elsewhere, the European Union and U.S. are also in the process of negotiating a massive bilateral trade deal.
Rather than see the TPP's lack of progress as a failure to capitalize on the momentum achieved at the WTO talks, Froman said he was "not at all" disappointed.
"All the ministers came here to Singapore very committed to building on that momentum and to making progress towards resolving all those outstanding issues," he said. "It was a very successful meeting in terms of working through very complex issues as a team."
- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt