U.S., Japan seen near deal on Trans-Pacific Partnership entry

Thu Apr 11, 2013 3:20pm EDT
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By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON, April 11 (Reuters) - The United States and Japan appear close to a deal to allow Tokyo into negotiations on a U.S.-led free-trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region, U.S. private-sector industry and labor officials said on Thursday.

"It does certainly look like (they are) about to make that announcement," despite the objections of U.S. labor groups concerned about removing U.S. tariffs on Japanese cars and trucks, Thea Lee, deputy chief of staff at the AFL-CIO labor federation, told the Washington International Trade Association.

"I think at this point we're going to have to shift (strategies) and try to figure out, as Japan joins, that we are putting on the table all the things that are most important to us," Lee said.

Japan asked in March to join negotiations on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and is awaiting a formal decision by the 11 currently participating countries.

If the world's third largest economy is allowed into the negotiations, the final agreement would cover nearly 40 percent of world economic output.

Japanese Economics Minister Akira Amari said on Tuesday Japan and the Unites States were in the final stage of consultations about Japan joining the TPP.

EYES ON JULY ROUND   Continued...