The Nation



Brunei might host TPP talks

Brunei may host the next round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade talks next month, when Japan is expected to join in the ongoing negotiations as its 12th member, informed sources were quoted as saying on Saturday.

Citing unnamed sources involved in the closed-door negotiations, Kyodo News said the 11 members currently meeting for the 18th round in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia were considering holding the talks next in Brunei in late August.

Japan will then fully join the nearly four-year old talks at the negotiating table here, with the world's fourth largest economy making its debut in Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday. It has been considering joining the TPP for a couple of years.

Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore made up the predecessor to the free trade pact, in what was known as the "P4" countries. Since then, the US has largely been leading the TPP, which now also includes Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam.

The TPP members take turns hosting the negotiations every two to three months. The earlier-than-expected hosting of the talks in Brunei next month was under consideration since discussions on removing tariffs "have run into trouble", and due to Japan's late entry into the current round. It was therefore expected that another round of talks will be held in September after the negotiations in Brunei, the sources added.

A deal on the TPP has so far been evasive as participating countries thresh out the undisclosed details of the free-trade pact, but the sources said the members were looking at October 13 for a basic agreement to be reached by then, with a deal hoped to be concluded by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, a request to have the TPP discussed in the Malaysian Parliament was reportedly rejected. A letter to the editor to The Brunei Times this month also called for the TPP to be raised at the Legislative Council meeting.

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