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Published December 08, 2010, 09:35 AM

TPP negotiators work to produce outline for future talks

AUCKLAND — Trade negotiators looking to set up a nine-country Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership are “optimistic” about the direction the talks have taken after three days of discussions in Auckland, New Zealand chief negotiator Mark Sinclair said Wednesday.

AUCKLAND — Trade negotiators looking to set up a nine-country Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership are “optimistic” about the direction the talks have taken after three days of discussions in Auckland, New Zealand chief negotiator Mark Sinclair said Wednesday.

The envisioned TPP, which aims to bring Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States into a free-trade group, will cover a host of areas, including goods, intellectual property, customs, legal and institutional issues, labor, financial services and technical barriers to trade, Sinclair said.

The group of some 400 trade experts is working on a “draft” that will point the way to future talks where more detailed plans can be decided.

Sinclair said that among the focuses in Auckland is a “horizontal agenda” that will be used in creation of efficient supply lines and regulations that should directly bring trade benefits to businesses in the TPP region.

Japan, which had hoped to attend the meetings in New Zealand as an observer, has indicated it may want to join the group, depending on the direction the negotiations take.

It was not, however, allowed to take part because only those working for a TPP are allowed in the closed-door meetings.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has indicated his government is interested in the TPP, but expected tough regulations that would open up Japan’s protected farm market could derail any chance of Japan becoming an early signatory to the proposed pact.

The United States has said it wants to have a TPP in place by late next year.

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