After five years of negotiations the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the US and 11 other countries is finally nearing competition following a key breakthrough.
The US and Australia made major progress on a conflict over how long a monopoly pharmaceutical companies should be given on new biotech drugs. However officials said that this still needs to receive backing from other nations such as Chile and Peru.
Negotiators were increasingly confident about completing the deal which has been in the works since 2010. Japan's economic minister, Akira Amari, said he had called Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to tell him that a deal was within sight.
The TPP would lower tariffs and set common standards for the 12 participating economies, which together account for around 40 per cent of global output. Some of the trickier negotiating points, ranging from market access to monopoly periods for medicine, have been left until the end of the negotiations.
A similar agreement - the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP - is being negotiated between the United States and Europe.