WASHINGTON – Economy minister Akira Amari and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman are likely to meet in Tokyo early next week to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, sources said.
The two governments are in the final stages of arranging the meeting, the sources said Wednesday. The move is designed to help advance TPP negotiations that the 12 participating countries want to conclude by the end of the year.
The focus of the meeting between Amari, who is in charge of TPP affairs, and Froman will be on Japan’s demand to keep tariffs on five sensitive farm product categories, including rice and sugar.
The United States wants to reach certain tariff agreements with Tokyo to add impetus for progress in the overall TPP negotiations.
The U.S. hopes a political settlement will be reached at a ministerial meeting set for Dec. 7 to 10 in Singapore.
Amari and Froman are expected to affirm the two countries’ commitment to producing results in bilateral TPP-related trade talks, the sources said.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Wednesday that Froman will visit Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia from Sunday through Tuesday.
Medical export plan
The head of the Japanese arm of major U.S. medical equipment maker Becton, Dickinson & Co., or BD, said it may export products made at its plant in the city of Fukushima to other parts of Asia in the “near future.”
John Harris, president of Nippon Becton Dickinson Co., revealed the plan Wednesday in an interview.
Established in 1987, the Fukushima plant is the only production base of Tokyo-based Nippon BD. With some 200 employees, the plant currently makes products only for the Japanese market.
Harris said the Japanese arm is considering exporting mediums for culturing living cells and syringes to Asia. Products for Asia outside Japan are now made at the BD group’s plants in the United States and Europe.
Exports of products made at the Fukushima plant would help reduce costs, he said.