WASHINGTON – U.S. trade chief Michael Froman urged Japan on Thursday to make more concessions in thorny bilateral issues over a 12-country Pacific free trade initiative to break the current deadlock over the plenary negotiations.
Froman, the U.S. trade representative, said in a lecture in Washington he looks forward to “bold visions at the negotiating table” for market access in agricultural produce and autos under the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.
Froman made the remark after he and Akira Amari, Japanese TPP minister, 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.
“TPP is a key part” of the structural reforms that make up what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls the “third arrow” —along with aggressive monetary easing and massive fiscal spending — of his measures aimed at propping up the Japanese economy, Froman said.
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.
Abe and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden agreed in their meeting last week in New York to boost efforts for a conclusion of a TPP with flexibility, according to a Japanese official.
Japan, the United States and 10 other countries plan to hold a ministerial meeting on the TPP issue in Australia from Oct. 25 to 27 seeking to conclude the pact early.
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.