MAUI, Hawaii - The Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement negotiations entered their final phase on Friday at a conference on issues such as government procurement and the environment.

MAUI, Hawaii - The Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement negotiations entered their final phase on Friday at a conference on issues such as government procurement and the environment.


The chief negotiators representing the 12 countries in the talks aim to hand the basic agreement off to government ministers for a meeting on Tuesday.


"The remaining problems are limited, but our job is to overcome these last difficulties," Japan’s top negotiator, Koji Tsuruoka, told reporters before the start of the chief negotiators’ meeting.


The participating countries in the TPP talks aim to complete a written accord comprising 31 chapters, including stipulations about common economic rules.


Negotiations over 17 chapters have been effectively settled. The chief negotiators’ meeting will tackle settlements on about eight chapters.


These chapters include one about government procurement that would prevent participating governments from giving preferential treatment to their nation’s companies when the governments buy products. Another concerns the environment, and would set rules aimed at achieving both economic growth and environmental conservation.


There are four chapters over which negotiations have faced difficulties, such as intellectual property and state-run companies. The chief negotiators will try to narrow down the points of dispute so the ministers can resolve the talks with political decisions.


Two chapters - the TPP agreement’s preamble and its final provisions - are scheduled to be confirmed when the basic agreement is reached.


The 12 participating countries will also hold bilateral meetings in parallel with their general meeting.