Negotiators at the 18th round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations which took place from July 15-25 in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, agreed to keep their eyes fixed on the goal of concluding the agreement by the end of this year.

The negotiations witnessed the participation of more than 650 officials from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

Divided into 13 negotiating groups, the officials discussed issues such as investment, non-conforming measures, competition, market access, rules of origin and technical barriers to trade.

Financial services, e-commerce, temporary entry, intellectual property rights, environment, government procurement as well as legal and institutional issues were also tabled.

On July 23, Japan was welcomed as the 12th member of the TPP negotiations. With Japan’s entry, TPP countries create a market of 790 million people with a combined gross domestic product of 27 trillion USD, accounting for about one third of global trade.

There was good progress in resolving technical issues during the 18 th TPP round which was also able to narrow differences in complicated matters, paving the way for the possible early closure of some of these concerns.

On the more challenging subjects of intellectual property, environment and state-owned enterprises, negotiators explored further options to advance work in the 13 groups.

In a statement, the ministers from TPP countries said they planned to regularly engage in the coming weeks ahead of the next round to find solutions to sensitive issues that remain, guide the work of negotiators and keep the negotiations moving expeditiously towards a positive outcome.

Within the framework of the event, a forum designed for stakeholders was held on July 20 with the participation of over 200 related units.

The 19 th round of the TPP negotiations will be held in Brunei from August 22-30.-VNA