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With eye on China, Japan refuses to ease TPP rules for new members

Incoming chair Tokyo seeks to balance expansion with maintaining trade standards

Building blocs: Asian trading pacts are increasing in popularity as governments realign themselves with new partners.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Initially a small trade agreement signed by four Pacific Rim countries -- Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand -- the TPP-11 has suddenly turned into something of an exclusive club that nations are clamoring to get in. But next year's chair of the trade pact, Japan, will be the gatekeeper upholding the strictest standards.

Formally known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP-11 has recently attracted interest from a wide range of countries from the U.K., which has expressed its interest in joining next year, to Thailand and even global trade powerhouse China.

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