U.S. readies for more 'extremely tough' trade talks with Japan

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler smiles during a news conference in SeoulThe United States is finding talks with Japan on opening its agricultural market “extremely tough”, a senior U.S. trade official said on Friday, as the two countries prepared for another round of bilateral negotiations. Japanese officials will visit Washington next week in a bid to break a deadlock over tariffs on farm and industrial products, which is drawing out plans to conclude a wider free trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The United States had hoped to wrap up the deal last year, but ministerial-level talks in Singapore last month ended with many issues still on the table, most notably Japan’s protection of its farm sector. U.S. Acting Deputy Trade Representative Wendy Cutler said Japan was moving very slowly, despite a commitment to work towards a comprehensive and high-standard agreement when it joined the TPP talks last year.

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