• Kyodo

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The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative confirmed Friday that chief negotiators from 12 nations will gather in Hawaii from March 9 to 15 to seek the early conclusion of a Pacific free trade initiative.

The negotiators from the United States and 11 other countries will follow up last month’s talks in New York on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“We have made progress and are meeting again to build on that work,” said Trevor Kincaid, a spokesman for the USTR.

The chief TPP negotiators are expected to discuss thorny issues such as intellectual property and reforms of state-owned enterprises.

The marathon negotiations for a TPP, which would cover some 40 percent of the global economy, has run through almost five years due to big gaps over several sensitive issues.

The 11 other countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

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