Countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade initiative will hold a working-level meeting in Hanoi next month, Japanese government officials said Monday.
Chief negotiators from the 12 TPP member economies are also expected to meet during the 10-day negotiations starting from Sept. 1, aiming to bridge gaps over remaining issues such as intellectual property rights and reform of state-owned firms, and set the stage for a ministerial meeting, the officials added.
The fresh round of working-level negotiations in the Vietnamese capital follows a meeting of TPP officials held in July in Ottawa, Canada. In Hanoi, the 12 countries are also expected to engage in bilateral talks on tariff issues — another difficult area.
The TPP negotiating members initially sought to strike a deal by the end of last year, but they are still struggling to find common ground on the contentious issues.
U.S. President Barack Obama said earlier that Washington envisions the 12 countries producing a document on the initiative in time for his trip to Asia in November, as he rushes to secure an outcome before U.S. midterm elections also slated for November.
The TPP members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.