A senior Japanese trade negotiator says a deal with the U.S. needed to move ahead with a Pacific Rim trade pact is possible by this spring.
Hiroshi Oe, a deputy chief trade negotiator for Japan, said talks with the U.S. toward forging the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, have made progress.
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He said he expected the two sides could reach agreement by this spring, but suggested it could be very late spring, or almost summer.
He said a final U.S.-Japan agreement was unlikely before top TPP negotiators meet in Hawaii next week.
There are disagreements over the politically sensitive dismantling of protections for Japan's farm sector and for U.S. autos and auto parts.