Top negotiators from the 11 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership will spend a full day explaining the current status of the talks to Japan when it joins them in Malaysia this month, government sources said Tuesday.
The 18th round of TPP talks will be held in Kota Kinabalu from July 15 to 25, and the last day will be devoted to Japan as it is set to become the 12th member of the free-trade talks, the sources said.
The talks were initially scheduled to be held through July 24 but were extended by a day after Japan asked for more time as it can only join from July 23, owing to internal United States procedures needed.
Japan’s chief negotiator, Koji Tsuruoka, will take part in the explanatory session, during which his counterparts will offer details on 21 fields.
Japan is playing catch-up as the participating countries aim to conclude a deal by the end of the year after holding negotiations that have entered their fourth year.
Although trade liberalization agreements generally call for eliminating trade barriers, Tokyo is seeking to retain the tariffs it imposes on imported farm products to protect the key products of rice, wheat, beef, pork, dairy products and sugar.
The 11 countries currently involved in the talks are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.