On Thursday, Japan and U.S officials had resumed their talks related to Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral free trade negotiations in Tokyo for rice and auto parts trade.
Tokyo and Washington will hold the working-level talks through Friday, ahead of the upcoming ministerial meeting of the 12 TPP-negotiating countries.
The 12 countries, including Japan and the United States, aim to reach a broad agreement at the four-day ministerial meeting in Hawaii from July 28.
A focal point of the resumed Japan-U.S. talks is whether the two major economies can find common ground on the issues of Japan’s import quota for U.S. rice and U.S. tariff abolition for Japanese auto parts, sources familiar with the situation said.
Hiroshi Oe, Japan’s acting chief TPP negotiator, is taking charge of negotiations on agricultural trade and Takeo Mori, economic diplomacy ambassador, on auto parts trade.
The U.S. team is headed by Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler.
Oe told reporters Thursday morning that he wants to help the TPP ministers strike a deal by successfully concluding the working-level talks with the United States.
Japan has proposed to set up a special quota for importing U.S. rice for direct human consumption instead of keeping tariffs on the staple food for Japanese people, but the two sides have yet to agree on the quota’s size.
Tokyo aims to limit U.S. rice imports to 50,000 tons a year, but Washington demands a larger amount, the sources said.
In the auto parts field, the two countries have been at odds over the scope and speed of tariff elimination by the United States.