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TPP trade talks head into Monday
[ATLANTA] Talks on the ambitious Pacific free-trade treaty were extended again to Monday as they remained bogged down in differences on the dairy trade and biologic patent protections.
A US trade official said plans for a press conference expected to announce a deal on the 12-nation talks late Sunday were cancelled, though he gave no reason.
Trade ministers and other top officials from the 12 countries have been negotiating around the clock since Wednesday hoping to close the deal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would be the world's largest free-trade zone.
Earlier in the day, Japan's Economy Minister Akira Amari said he was expecting a deal "in principle" to be announced Sunday afternoon.
Amari told Japanese journalists that there had been "major progress" Sunday morning and that a solution had been found to the main roadblock to a deal, how to protect developers of biologic drugs, which saw the United States and Australia sharply divided on the issue.
"We are making preparations now to announce a deal in principle this afternoon," he said, according to a translation of his remarks supplied by Japanese journalists.
The administration of President Barack Obama, the prime driver behind the TPP, wants it to create a foundation for "21st century trade rules," setting standards on trade, investment, data flows and intellectual property that eventually non-TPP members - particularly China - will have to accept.