Countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks wrapped up a five-day working group meeting on intellectual property in Tokyo on Monday, with a Japanese official saying the negotiators will speed up discussions to conclude an overall TPP deal by the end of this year.
After hosting a TPP meeting for the first time in Tokyo, Japan's deputy chief negotiator Hiroshi Oe told a press conference that all matters in question had been discussed and progressed to the point he was hoping to reach before the meeting.
"We now have a better prospect to enter the next step," Oe said. "But it is too optimistic to say we have arrived near the pinnacle," he added, likening the trans-Pacific trade talks to climbing a mountain.
"We will further speed up our work," Oe said, while declining to comment on the negotiations in detail.
The TPP negotiations on intellectual property, including patent terms for new drugs, have been one of the major sticking points for the 12 member countries.
Among issues in the area, the United States has been seeking extended patent terms for new drugs so that drugmakers can recoup their huge development costs, while Malaysia is opposed to the idea, claiming it could prevent the dissemination of cheaper generic medicine.
Japan is seeking a stronger crackdown on piracy related to animation series and cartoon characters.
The TPP countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.