Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday Tokyo will not make easy concessions for the purpose of advancing the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks hastily before his planned meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on April 28.
The TPP negotiations are “in the final phase. But problems remain,” Abe, who is making an eight-day official visit to the United States from April 26, told a session of the House of Councillors Budget Committee.
“It is impossible to make unnecessary concessions in line with my trip to the United States,” he said.
The 12 countries involved in the TPP have sought to reach an agreement by the end of this spring. But the outlook remains uncertain, due partly to remaining gaps over the trade deal between Japan and the United States — the two largest economies in the framework.
The negotiations have been delayed also because of a prolonged debate among U.S. lawmakers on a bill that grants Obama fast-track authority to sign trade deals.
On Thursday, however, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman expressed confidence of an early conclusion of a TPP deal despite the ongoing discussions on the bill for so-called Trade Promotion Authority.
“We do feel that we can close this out in a very small number of months,” Froman said at an event in Washington.