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Vietnam to Conclude WTO Negotiations with Japan Shortly 
(Youth Mar 17 p11, Thanhniennews.com Mar 17, Vietnamnet Mar 16) 
 
Vietnam and Japan are expecting to promptly complete negotiations on the former's bid to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Vietnam's Ministry of Trade (MoT) said in a news release on March 16.  
 
The ministry gave the forecast after announcing that Vietnam has made new progress in its latest bilateral talk with Japan over its entry to the WTO, which was held in Ho Chi Minh City last Thursday.  
 
During the talk, the two countries narrowed the gap over the tariff issue, the ministry said, adding that the two sides also gained encouraging results on discussions of commodities trading, business rights, non-tariff barriers and intellectual property rights.
 
Head of the Economics Department of the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam Yasukata Fukahori shared the same view about the last weeks round.
 
"We had essential, constructive, and detailed discussions in all fields, from goods to services and legal reform. The two sides are trying to finalize as soon as possible," the diplomat said.
 
The two countries made positive changes in a bid to come to an agreement on intellectual property, he said, commenting on Japan's advice to levy stronger laws and punishments towards violators. However, the Japanese side also accepted that there are still some issues that the two sides need further negotiations, the economic expert said.
 
The specific time for the next round of negotiation between the two countries has not been defined yet, but Mr Fukahori said that Japan hopes the two sides can continue the negotiation in May.
 
Japan has raised the stakes, requiring Vietnam to enact a 10% cut in export tax (presently at 18%), making it commensurate with that offered by China. Japan also wants Vietnam to further open banking, transport and goods distribution markets.
 
Before the talks, Vietnam had sent an amended commodities and services offer to Japan, expressing the country's progress, the Ministry of Trade revealed.
 
Japan is among 21 partners including the US that Vietnam needs to complete in order to hold a membership of the WTO late this year.
 
Vietnam and the US resumed their WTO negotiation round on March 14 in Washington D.C. Details of the three-day talk have yet to be made public.  
 
To date, Vietnam has completed six bilateral deals including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, the European Union and Singapore, and nine multilateral negotiation rounds on its accession to the WTO.