Froman presses Japan to open its economy to more trade

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman ramped up pressure on Japan to open its economy to more foreign trade during talks on Wednesday in Tokyo. 

Froman met with Akira Amari, Japan’s minister for economic and fiscal policy, to continue discussions over a bilateral agreement between the two nations that could help boost the chances for completing the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

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“We’re at an important crossroads in the TPP negotiation, as Japan looks to revitalize its economy and to help shape a stronger regional economic architecture for the negotiation of a high-standard, ambitious and comprehensive TPP agreement,” Froman said during a break in the talks. 

“This is a moment for Japan to take an elevated view and to choose a bold path of economic renewal, revitalization and regional leadership," he said.

U.S. and Japanese trade officials have intensified talks in recent weeks over complex tariff and non-tariff issues concentrated in the agricultural and auto sectors.

The trade pact’s future remains in jeopardy amid a stalemate with Japan over those market-access issues.

Froman arrived in Tokyo with President Obama for the first leg of a four-nation tour around the Pacific Rim with trade highlighting the broad-based agenda.

The president also will make stops in South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe had a sushi dinner Wednesday night in Tokyo and the two are expected to review the status of the TPP and its outstanding issues during meetings on Thursday.

"TPP is an opportunity for the U.S. and Japan to lead in promoting peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region," Froman said.

"Its economic and strategic importance is clear."

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