Trade officials from Japan and the United States resumed talks Wednesday over bilateral outstanding issues related to market access for agricultural products and autos under a 12-country Pacific free trade initiative.
The fresh round of bilateral negotiations come after the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries failed to see major progress at their leaders’ summit held in November in Beijing, with Japan and the United States, the largest economies in the framework, struggling to fill gaps over the contentious issues.
Japan’s Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari said earlier this month he hopes to hold a ministerial meeting by early spring to cut a deal given the United States will enter campaign mode later this year toward the 2016 presidential election, adding that a bilateral agreement between Tokyo and Washington will be a “prerequisite” to that end.
John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the U.S. Senate, said Tuesday U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told lawmakers the TPP deal is “on a two-month trajectory,” although the trade office said there is no set timeframe for the negotiations, according to Reuters.
The United States has insisted that Japan drastically open up its agricultural market, while Tokyo is seeking to exempt its key farm products — rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy and sugar — from tariff abolition.
Japan’s deputy chief negotiator Hiroshi Oe and Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler are expected to discuss issues including how to deal with Japanese tariffs on beef and pork, and safeguard measures Tokyo wants to introduce should imports of the products surge under the envisioned TPP.
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