Mexico is officially joining the group of nine nations negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, an effort to create a free trade area spanning the Asia-Pacific region, the Malaysian government said Tuesday.

"Mexico will be able to formally participate in the negotiations after all the current participants have undertaken their domestic procedures," the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry said.

The TPP was initially signed in 2005 by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, with Malaysia, Peru, Australia, the United States and Vietnam joining later.

The Mexican government expressed interest at last November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, forum in Honolulu in negotiating to join the TPP, which Canada and Japan are also seeking to join.

Mexican Economy Secretary Bruno Ferrari visited Australia and New Zealand in February to win support for Mexico's bid to join the countries negotiating the TPP.

"Considering the advanced state of negotiations, Mexico will have to abide with procedures established to ensure that there is no undue delay to the negotiations," the Malaysian government said. EFE