WASHINGTON – Japan and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to settle as soon as possible the disputes standing in the way of finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, agreeing to hold talks again next month, Japanese officials said.
Hiroshi Oe, deputy chief TPP negotiator, said Tuesday he and his U.S. counterpart, Wendy Cutler, promised to meet again Aug. 4 and 5 in Washington, and that he hopes the two governments will strike a deal “within several months.”
Oe hinted that the two sides made headway on some sticking points during two days of talks on exceptional agricultural tariffs, while declining to comment on details of the negotiations.
“The fog has lifted,” Oe told reporters, using a mountain-climbing analogy. “Now I can see the summit.”
Koya Nishikawa, head of the Liberal Democratic Party’s committee on the TPP, said he agreed with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to work harder on settling their differences over the free trade pact.
“I feel we have begun moving closer” to each other to bridge gaps on issues related to the 12-country trade initiative, said Nishikawa.
A main topic of Oe’s talks with Cutler, who is the deputy acting U.S. trade representative, was Japan’s proposed introduction of safeguard measures on beef and pork to protect domestic producers, he said. The measures would limit imports of the products should they surge under the TPP.
Japan also wants exceptional tariffs on rice, wheat, dairy products and sugar.
Japan and the United States are among the 12 countries working to strike a TPP deal that would cover some 40 percent of global economic output. The others are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Nishikawa said he has also pressed the Japanese case in the TPP during a series of meetings with House of Representatives member Devin Nunes, head of the subcommittee on trade, and Tami Overby, vice president for Asia of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Nishikawa came to the U.S. capital Sunday from Ottawa, where chief TPP negotiators from Japan, the United States and 10 other countries met from early July.