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Pacific pact negotiators agree trade rules for six subjects: Japan govt source

[TOKYO] Negotiators for the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed trade rules for six broad categories as officials race to conclude a trade pact, a Japanese government source said on Thursday.

The United States, Japan and 10 other countries have been locked in talks over the TPP, a US proposal that would cut trade barriers and harmonise standards covering two-fifths of the world economy and a third of global trade.

Officials from all countries meet on Thursday for the next round of formal negotiations near Washington, so any progress would be a welcome sign for talks that have often been delayed due to the sheer complexity of the trade zone.

Negotiators have agreed on common rules for telecommunications infrastructure providers and services firms working across borders, said the source, who declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

Negotiators have reached agreement on harmonising competition rules, visas for short-term business travel, simplifying customs and provision of technical support to enforce the trade pact, a document obtained by Reuters showed.

Given the scale of the task, negotiators have divided their work into 12 broad categories or themes, but some categories have been easier to negotiate than others.

Officials also agreed on some aspects of how to manage the ambitious trade bloc, the document showed, but tough debate on intellectual property remains to be resolved.