Pacific Rim countries negotiating a sweeping free trade initiative are considering holding a ministerial meeting in late September or early October in the United States aiming to conclude their marathon talks, negotiation sources said Wednesday.
The United States, Japan and 10 other countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership are working on setting the date later this week for the next ministerial talks as some parties see the need for striking a deal ahead of the general elections in Canada planned for Oct. 19.
Ministers from the 12 countries failed to reach a broad agreement on the U.S.-led initiative during their talks in late July in Hawaii. A TPP would cover some 40 percent of the global economy.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said recently that it would take only one more ministerial meeting to conclude the TPP negotiation but it remains uncertain whether relevant countries will be able to bridge the big gaps over issues such as how long new drug data should be protected.
The United States, Japan, Canada and Mexico held a series of meetings on TPP-related issues such as automotive trade last week in Washington.
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