The next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations will be extended by a day as countries involved will welcome Japan as the 12th member of the talks in late July, a negotiation source said Thursday.
As the current round in Peru nears its end on Friday, the 11 countries involved in the talks for creating one of the world's largest free trade areas have agreed to hold the round in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur July 15-25, adding one day to the initially planned 10-day schedule through July 24, the source told Kyodo News.
Japan has been requesting the United States and 10 other TPP members to stretch the July round as it is expected to miss most of the dates as the United States will only complete on July 23 its 90-day process of notifying the Congress to formally admit Japan to the talks.
The existing TPP members are still going over the possibility of further extending the meeting for two or three days in response to Japan's call. Japan has been saying it hopes to make meaningful contributions to the rule-making as the second largest economy to be involved in the talks.
The Japanese government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made concessions during bilateral negotiations with the United States while hoping to join in from the earliest round possible.
The round after the Malaysia meeting is set for September as countries aim to conclude a deal by the end of the year.
With little time left for negotiations, Japan has decided to send senior officials to Peru to gather information on the ongoing talks by approaching negotiators of other countries after the round in Lima ends.
"While there are rules that (TPP) information cannot be made public, we must confirm what kind of discussions are being held," economic revitalization minister Akira Amari, who doubles as the TPP minister, said Friday morning in Tokyo.
Amari added Japan can "assume the offensive" in negotiations for many fields including market access and intellectual property as some of these have yet to reach the final stages of negotiations.
The 11 countries involved in the TPP talks are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.