Japan and U.S. open second round of trade talks in parallel with TPP

Kyodo

Japan and the United States on Monday began a second round of bilateral talks on automobiles and trade barriers in parallel with the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, with Tokyo calling for “maximum flexibility” in the discussions.

During the two-day session in Tokyo, which preceded a series of TPP meetings of the 12 member states starting Tuesday in Bali, Indonesia, the two sides are expected to discuss issues including automobiles and nontariff barriers in nine areas including insurance, intellectual property and investment.

Representing Japan, Takeo Mori, ambassador for economic diplomacy, said at the outset of the meeting that he wants U.S. officials to show “utmost and maximum flexibility.”

Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler, who heads the U.S. delegation, said that the bilateral negotiations are of “key importance” to her government and that she expects “to achieve strong outcomes” from the talks.

Agreements to be reached in the bilateral talks related to the automotive sector will be reflected in the TPP negotiations, while those regarding nontariff measures will be implemented by each country.

The TPP countries including Japan and the U.S. are planning to reach a basic agreement at a summit slated for Oct. 8 in Bali, which will pave the way for the conclusion of a gigantic free trade deal by the end of the year.

Tokyo and Washington were at odds during the first round of trade talks in August. Mori said at that time the two sides were unable to find common ground.

The dialogue was launched following a request from the United States, which has been seeking the further opening of the Japanese market through the establishment of unified auto safety standards and other measures.

The two sides unveiled the bilateral negotiation framework in April after completing their preparatory talks for Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations.