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Japan, U.S. trade chief might hold TPP powwow in September: Amari

Kyodo

Tokyo and Washington could hold a ministerial meeting in September to reach agreement on contentious bilateral issues related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the minister in charge of the trade initiative said Friday.

Akira Amari said he thinks there is a possibility he will meet with his counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, next month.

Japan and the United States, the largest economies in the TPP, have been at odds over tariff and auto issues. Securing a two-way agreement is seen as the key to advancing the full negotiations involving all 12 nations.

“If (the 12 countries) are to strike a broad agreement in November, it’s better if Japan and the United States can find common ground on a ministerial level within September,” Amari told a news conference, adding that whether he will hold a meeting with Froman next month depends on how much progress can be made at the working level.

President Barack Obama said earlier that Washington envisions the 12 TPP countries producing a document on the initiative in time for his trip to Asia in November.

Tokyo and Washington have yet to move closer on the issue of how to deal with Japanese tariffs and safeguard measures on key farm products, as well as the contentious issue of opening up Japan’s auto market.