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US, Japan hold talks on TPP

Reporter: Mike Firn 丨 CCTV.com

04-24-2014 11:04 BJT

US and Japanese trade officials are holding talks in Tokyo as US President Barack Obama makes Japan his first stop in his four nation Asia tour. The US wants greater access to Japan`s car market and lower import duties on farm products.

The US and Japanese leaders plan to present a unified front when they meet in Tokyo. Barack Obama and Shinzo Abe are expected to reaffirm their commitment to the US-Japan security alliance but on the trade front the two sides are still far apart.

Ahead of Thursday`s Abe, Obama summit trade officials are meeting to try to narrow differences over automobiles and agricultural products. Deputy level talks on Tuesday are being followed by a meeting Wednesday between Japan`s TPP Minister Akira Amari and US Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Kyodo News reports that Japan has offered to cut tariffs on US beef from 38.5 to 15% One analyst says that may not be enough to satisfy the US.

"The United States will definitely push for lower tariffs because there`s time remaining and if they can announce there has been significant progress at this point the US and Japan can justifiably claim that they have been able to maintain and even accelerate the momentum in the negotiations." Jun Okumura, Visiting Scholar, Meiji Inst. for Global Affairs said.

When Shinzo Abe announced plans to join TPP talks last year he said Japan had to stop looking inwards and open its markets to the world - in spite of opposition from farmers who say cheap imports will put them out of business one former foreign ministry official says the prime minister will push ahead with his plan.

"The TPP is very important because this third arrow for the growth strategy. You simply cannot sustain this economy without having huge reform in the agriculture sector and other sectors. There are huge vested interests. In order to get rid of them there is a need for international agreements such as TPP." Hitoshi Tanaka, Chairman of Inst. for Int'l Strategy, Japan Research Inst. said.

Ministers from the 12 TPP nations ended their last meeting in February saying they`d made progress on an agreement but there were still some sticking points. With another meeting expected to take place as early as next month the pressure is on the US and Japan to settle their differences and put the broader talks back on track.

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