Countries in the ongoing talks for a Pacific free trade agreement are narrowing differences in the area of intellectual property rights, one of the issues that has been an obstacle to concluding negotiations, a Japanese minister said Tuesday.
“There has been confrontation between emerging and developed economies in the area of intellectual property, but things are moving forward considerably,” said Akira Amari, Japan’s minister in charge of the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative.
“But I am aware that we have yet to reach an agreement” over the issue, Amari told reporters.
Over intellectual property rights — covering topics such as patents for new medicines and copyright — emerging Asian economies such as Malaysia and Vietnam have been at odds with the United States.
Chief negotiators from Japan, the United States and the 10 other TPP member countries are currently discussing contentious issues at their four-day meeting in Vietnam through Thursday, to be followed by a ministerial gathering in Singapore on May 19 and 20.
The latest round of negotiations comes after Japan and the United States, the biggest economies in the TPP, moved closer over the issue of market access for farm products and automobiles following a summit between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama.
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