Akira Amari, minister in charge of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, said Friday he may meet with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman if the two countries can make progress on settling their differences over tariff issues during working-level negotiations next week.
While Amari did not elaborate, government sources said the meeting may take place mid-week after working-level talks in Tokyo from Monday aimed at breaking an impasse over the free trade negotiations.
Tokyo and Washington, the two biggest economies in the TPP, have been at odds over how to deal with tariffs that Japan wants to retain on sensitive agriculture products, as well as the phase-out period for U.S. auto tariffs. The gap is hampering the broader negotiations, which involve 10 other economies.
With the Japanese-U.S. summit scheduled to take place in Tokyo later this month, the two are trying to speed up the TPP talks in hopes of sealing the deal at the summit.
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