Japan and the United States, working towards possible progress over trade issues, have not yet come to a working agreement on Wednesday over issues that would move the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade pact forward. The U.S. has been frustrated as Japan has kept its stance on the tariffs that protect traditional lobbies in the country, such as agricultural products and cars, and there is very little hope in the horizon for a breakthrough before U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Tokyo later this month.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman met with his Japanese counterpart Akira Amari, looking to resolve these issues. At the end of the meeting, both revealed to the press that the two parties “still have gaps” over such issues as removal of Japanese tariffs on farm products and auto trade, one of the biggest arguments in the TPP, as the pact requires free trade from all parties. Wednesday’s marathon meetings lasted for more than 10 hours, but Amari came out of the talks saying that the two largest economies within the TPP “still remain apart” over these basic trade issues. The talks will resume on Thursday morning, hoping to hammer through a bilateral deal that would signal a key step towards the conclusion of the 12-country TPP deal.
Trade experts and observers were actually looking forward to Washington and Tokyo coming together on a bilateral trade deal, this after the encouraging progress between Japan and Australia which harps on the same elements – a bilateral free trade pact that has tariff cuts on Australian beef and Japanese automobiles. Froman said, however, that he is looking for a higher level of concession from Japan for the TPP, which aims at eliminating the tariffs altogether. Japan has reiterated that it wants to protect its tariffs on five farm product categories — rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products and sugar. The U.S. has been frustrated with this, as majority of the countries in the TPP have agreed on the basic TPP principle of eliminating all tariffs.
[via Yahoo News]