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[ATLANTA] Japan's Economy Minister Akira Amari said on Friday negotiators were close to reaching a sweeping Pacific Rim trade deal, citing progress on the remaining issues involving autos, dairy products and intellectual property protections for expensive biologic drugs.
Mr Amari, who spoke to reporters before a meeting of the 12 trade ministers represented in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks in Atlanta, said he was hopeful of reaching a deal on Saturday after another all-night session of work.
Mr Amari said talks on auto trade involving Japan, Canada, the United States and Mexico had made major progress and were "one step away from completion".
He said that Mexico, Canada and Japan had neared terms of a deal on increased dairy market access and that the remaining issues involved New Zealand and the United States.
New Zealand, which has 17 per cent of global dairy trade, making it the largest exporter, has been pushing for improved access for its exports as part of the TPP. "I think the remaining issues are between New Zealand and the United States," Mr Amari said of the talks involving dairy trade.
Negotiators hope to wrap up Trans-Pacific Partnership talks by Saturday when a joint news conference by all 12 ministers has been scheduled.