Japan Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and United States Trade Representative Michael Froman said on Sunday that both their countries are committed to reaching a conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade negotiations by end of 2013. Japan will be joining the next round of talks on August 22-30, their first full round since officially becoming the 12th member last July.
Froman is visiting Japan for the first time since he was appointed a US trade representative. Motegi said that when he told him that the Japanese government is “constructively and proactively” working to conclude the TPP deal, they made a “commitment to work together”. They are also looking to accelerate the bilateral talks between Japan and the US, which started earlier this month, in parallel with the TPP talks. They discussed trade negotiations on autos and non-tariff barriers, which are big issues with a lot of American companies who have been protesting Japan’s trade practices the past decades. Froman is also set to meet with other government members on Monday, including TPP minister Akira Amari.
In the next round of TPP negotiations to be held in Brunei for nine days later this month, the 12-nation member group will be discussing tariffs, plus another round of requests and offers in bilateral sessions. The previous round which was held in Malaysia, Japan was only able to join in the latter stage since their participation was only confirmed on July 24th. The other members of the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.