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TPP members eye new round of talks in Brunei

Kyodo

The 11 members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade liberalization initiative are considering holding the next round of talks in Brunei in late August, sources said Saturday.

The 18th round of negotiations is currently under way in the Malaysian resort of Kota Kinabalu. Japan is expected to make its debut as the 12th member of the nearly 4-year-old talks on Tuesday, after the United States completes the requisite 90-day notification period to Congress.

Japan will be able to fully join the free trade discussions in the 19th round.

The TPP members rotate the hosting duties for the talks every two to three months.

Although the next round was initially expected to be held in September, it might be moved up slightly because negotiations on removing tariffs have run into trouble and Japan isn’t due to join until the final phase of the Malaysia round, the sources said.

But it is likely the members will gather again in September following the August talks. They are also discussing whether a basic agreement should be reached by Oct. 13, according to the sources.

The countries involved in the TPP negotiations — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam — have agreed to strike a basic deal in October and to conclude an accord by the end of the year.

Motegi to visit U.S.

Kyodo

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will embark on a four-day visit to the United States from Tuesday to reconfirm bilateral cooperation on trade, energy and investment, a government official said.

Motegi will meet with new U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on Wednesday to exchange views on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, which Japan is set to join this week, the official said Friday.

The minister is also scheduled to hold talks with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz on issues including the exportation of liquefied natural gas to Japan, and to meet with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, according to the official.

On Thursday and Friday, Motegi will visit companies including Google Inc. and Stratasys Ltd., a manufacturer of 3-D printers capable of making objects from plastic and other materials.