US, Japan make no progress in TPP talks

Updated: 2014-09-25 14:33


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WASHINGTON - The United States and Japan made no progress in bilateral talks aimed at promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said Wednesday.

"While there were constructive working level discussions over the weekend, we were unable to make further progress on the key outstanding issues," the USTR's Office said in a statement, wrapping up a two-day meeting here between US Trade Representative Michael Froman and his counterpart, Japanese Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy Akira Amari.

"Both sides will consider next steps following consultations in both capitals," it added.

US President Barack Obama had hoped to conclude TPP trade negotiations by the end of this year, but representatives from the 12 participating countries in the Asia Pacific failed to reach a deal in the past months, amid disagreements between the United States and Japan over agriculture and autos.

The United States wants Japan to open its market for sensitive agricultural products like rice, beef, pork and dairy, while Japan hopes to keep import duties in place for those products.

US lawmakers had also expressed concerns that the Obama administration's trade agenda was at risk of failure without trade promotion authority (TPA).

The TPA, known as "fast track" trade legislation, provides that Congress must vote up or down on a proposed trade agreement without the possibility of amendment. Without that guarantee, it's more difficult for other negotiating countries to make significant concessions.

Analysts said that it's unlikely for Congress to pass the TPA bill before midterm elections in November. Therefore, chances of wrapping up the TPP trade deal this year appear slim.

The TPP talks were initiated by Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei in 2005, but have been dominated by the United States since it joined the talks in 2008. Japan joined the TPP talks last year.