Japan and the United States on Friday recognized that many challenges lie ahead as they wrapped up their first round of talks linked to the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations involving 10 other nations.
The three-day talks in Tokyo, covering autos, insurance and nontariff barriers in nine areas, were held in parallel with the TPP negotiations that Japan joined last month aimed at creating a massive regional free trade zone.
The bilateral dialogue came after a request from the United States, which has been seeking the further opening up of the Japanese market through the establishment of unified auto safety standards and other measures.
Takeo Mori, ambassador for economic diplomacy and head of the Japanese delegation, indicated after the talks that much more work needs to be done before the two sides can reach an agreement.
“As we are at the stage of narrowing down issues, we have yet to reach the stage for forging an agreement or finding common ground,” Mori told reporters.
Mori said the talks covered all the issues that the two sides had agreed to put on the table and they did not touch upon the labeling of food products using genetically modified organisms.
Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler, who headed the U.S. delegation, said the bilateral talks “got off to a good start,” but added, “We recognize we have a great deal of challenging work ahead of us.”