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Top negotiators of the 11 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks will spend a full day explaining the current status of the talks to Japan when it joins them in Malaysia later this month, government sources said Tuesday.
While the 18th round of talks will be held in Kota Kinabalu from July 15 to 25, the last day will be devoted to Japan as it is set to become the 12th member of the multilateral trade liberalization talks, according to the sources.
The talks were initially scheduled to be held through July 24, but were extended by a day after Japan asked for more time as it can only join from July 23, when the United States completes the domestic procedure needed to allow Japan in.
Japan's chief negotiator Koji Tsuruoka will take part in the explanatory session, during which his counterparts will give details of the talks on 21 fields covering the elimination of tariffs and the protection of intellectual properties among others.
As countries aim to conclude a deal by the end of the year, the latest session is expected to help Japan catch up with the U.S.-led negotiations that are already in their fourth year.
Although trade liberalization agreements generally call for eliminating trade barriers, Tokyo is seeking to retain the tariffs it imposes on imported farm products to protect its key products -- rice, wheat, beef, pork, dairy products and sugar.
The 11 countries currently involved in the talks are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
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