Visiting U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Sunday agreed to work toward speeding up Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade negotiations with the aim of concluding an agreement by the end of the year.
Japan formally joined the United States and 10 other Asia-Pacific nations in negotiations to create a major new trade bloc during the 18th round of talks in Malaysia last month. With the addition of Japan, the 12 countries would account for some 40 percent of world trade volume.
The other 10 countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Motegi and Froman will attend ministerial level talks on the TPP in Brunei on Thursday.
Autos remain one of the thorniest issues in trade relations between Japan and the U.S. Before arriving in Japan, Froman told reporters: "Right now, all foreign penetration of the Japanese auto market is 6% and so I think everyone believes there is a long way to go before we can really say the Japanese market is open."
The U.S. side wants Japan to eliminate all existing non-tariff barriers in that keep American autos out, such as discriminatory taxes, onerous vehicle certification procedures for imports and complex safety and pollution standards.© Japan Today/AP