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Pacific trade negotiators seek deal on most issues this week: US trade office

[WASHINGTON] Negotiators on an ambitious Asia-Pacific trade pact seek to wrap up all but the most sensitive parts of the deal this week, the US Trade Representative's office said on Tuesday.

Speaking notes prepared for the chief US agricultural negotiator, Darci Vetter, said the timeline of the Trans-Pacific Partnership would depend on how the negotiations went, but talks among chief negotiators this week were key.

Ms Vetter also said Canada would have to make concessions on dairy imports.

"The chief negotiators are meeting in New York this week and are trying to close out all but the most sensitive and challenging issues not needing ministerial attention," she said, according to notes prepared for an International Dairy Foods Association event in Florida.

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TPP countries, which include Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Japan, account for almost half US dairy exports.

US dairy farmers and milk processors have threatened to oppose the deal if Japan and Canada do not agree to accept substantially more US imports.

Ms Vetter said Canada, which uses milk quotas and import tariffs to ensure steady prices for local farmers, had signed up to the same goals of a high-standard agreement as all others.

"Our negotiations with Canada are still ongoing," she said, according to the notes, "and they need to bring something to the table but obviously, there are some political sensitivities with Canada's supply management system."