News Column

U.S., Japan Find Common Ground on Trans-Pac

January 20, 2014

Japan Economic Newswire

Japan, U.S. agree both sides need to make further efforts on TPP
Japan Economic Newswire (Published: 20-Jan 2014 7:03 AM, Received: 7:12:14 AM)
Word Count: 278
TOKYO, Jan. 20 -- (Kyodo) _ Japanese and U.S. trade chiefs agreed Monday that both sides need to make further efforts for the conclusion of the envisioned Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact at an early date.

Akira Amari, Japan's minister in charge of the TPP negotiations, suggested that he and his U.S. counterpart Michael Froman discussed during their teleconference how to deal with tariffs that Japan is seeking to retain on five sensitive farm product categories, but declined to elaborate.

"It is very important to thrash out (unresolved issues) at the chief negotiators' level" before the next ministerial meeting planned for February, Amari told reporters after the teleconference.

According to negotiation sources, the United States has proposed convening a TPP ministerial meeting from Feb. 22 in Singapore. But such a high-level meeting may be put off until March or later as there is little possibility that the 12 negotiating countries will be able to break their impasse over thorny issues including tariffs, reform of state-owned enterprises as well as intellectual property rights.

Amari also said the next gathering will be a crucial session at which the 12 countries need to seal a deal at any cost, otherwise they will lose momentum.

Noting that Japan's trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi and farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi are expected to meet with Froman on the sidelines of the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, starting Wednesday, Amari expressed hope that the planned bilateral talks will pave the way for a breakthrough.

Tokyo and Washington, the two biggest economies involved in the TPP talks, have been at odds over tariffs and auto trade issues, hampering the overall negotiations.

(c) 2014 Kyodo News International, Inc.

Original headline: Japan, U.S. agree both sides need to make further efforts on TPP

Source: (c) 2014 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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