Japanese and U.S officials have reportedly agreed to hold ministerial-level talks on issues tied to President Obama Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Tokyo on Sunday and Monday.
Jiji Press said Friday that the negotiations between Akira Amari, the Japanese minister in charge of TPP, and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, will concern Japan’s import quota for U.S. rice and U.S. tariffs on Japanese auto parts. “I think no conclusion would be drawn at the ministerial talks,” Amari was quoted as saying at a press conference Friday. “There remain difficult issues yet to be cleared at the working level,” he added.
Jiji said working-level negotiations between the two nations have been held in Tokyo since Wednesday. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Obama will hold a summit in Washington on April 28 in which the TPP is expected to be discussed.
The decision on a ministerial meeting closely follows Thursday’s move by the U.S. Senate and House tax-writing committees to introduce a bipartisan bill that would give Obama “fast track” authority to negotiate a far-reaching trade accord with 11 other Pacific countries. Approval of the legislation would restrict Congress to a yes-or-no vote on trade deals in exchange for setting negotiating goals and other conditions for negotiators. Getting the bill through both chambers is critical to the TPP’s success.
Japan and other Asian TPP partners have said that the approval of fast track authority by the U.S., which assures trading partners that deals will not be taken apart, is key.
Tokyo and Washington last held ministerial TPP talks in Sydney in October 2014.