WASHINGTON – U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman urged Japan to make more concessions over thorny bilateral issues to break the current deadlock in a 12-nation Pacific free trade initiative.
Froman said he looks forward to “bold visions at the negotiating table” on the issues of market access in agricultural produce and autos under the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
Froman made the remark after he and TPP Minister Akira Amari failed to make progress in their talks on the U.S.-led trade pact in late September in the U.S. capital due mainly to wide gaps over the issues.
The TPP is a “key part” of the structural reforms that make up what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls the “third arrow” of his measures aimed at propping up the economy, along with radical monetary easing and massive fiscal spending, Froman said in a speech in Washington.
The U.S. team handling the TPP is “very fortunate” to have Amari as their counterpart as the TPP negotiator because he is also responsible for the overall economic reform effort in Japan, Froman said.
But in Tokyo on Friday, Amari said that the TPP countries need to “give up to some extent” on ambitious goals to conclude a deal.
Negotiations on outstanding issues are “getting difficult,” Amari told reporters, calling for more efforts from the United States and some other countries to narrow gaps.
Abe and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden agreed in their meeting last week in New York to boost efforts to conclude a pact with flexibility, according to a Japanese official.
Japan, the United States and the 10 other negotiating countries plan to hold a ministerial meeting on the TPP issue in Australia from Oct. 25 to 27 in a bid to swiftly conclude the pact.
Lingering differences over tariffs on some farm products and a U.S. call on Japan to increase access to its auto industry have been seen as a drag on the multilateral talks.