• Kyodo

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Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari said Wednesday the 12 countries negotiating a Pacific Rim free trade initiative can reach a broad agreement by the end of July, as U.S. Congress has neared passage of a bill that is crucial to concluding the pact.

“I think a ministerial meeting will be held in July,” Amari told reporters in Tokyo. “We need to reach a broad agreement in July. I think that is possible,” he said.

Amari’s remarks came after the U.S. Senate on Tuesday endorsed a plan to wrap up deliberations and take a new vote on the bill, now expected Wednesday, to grant President Barack Obama authority to sign trade deals such as TPP without amendments in Congress.

Amari said if Trade Promotion Authority is enacted, “each nation will play the last card and we will make substantial progress” toward concluding TPP. Amari is in charge of Japan’s negotiations on the pact.

He said Japan does not expect a ministerial meeting to be pushed back to August, but added Tokyo will stay cautious until the TPA legislation takes effect with Obama’s signature.

The TPP involves Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.