Japan-US talks on Pacific trade accord get push from fast-track proposal in US Congress

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Top Japan and U.S. trade officials plan to meet this weekend, seeking to close gaps over autos and farm trade before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Washington later this month.

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Economy minister Akira Amari announced plans for the talks with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman late Friday.

The U.S. and Japan must agree on market-opening measures before the 12 countries involved can reach a long-delayed final accord on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership, a Pacific Rim trade pact.

An agreement by U.S. lawmakers Thursday to propose legislation allowing President Barack Obama to negotiate trade accords for overall congressional review appeared to help move things along.

The plan for Cabinet-level talks suggests the two sides made progress this week on resolving differences over the pace and scale of market opening.