November 8, 2014 / 9:25 AM / 3 years ago

Japan economy minister says TPP agreement difficult by year-end: report

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Japan's Economics Minister Akira Amari, who retained his post after a cabinet shuffle, arrives at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo September 3, 2014.Yuya Shino

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Economy Minister Akira Amari said on Saturday he saw progress in Asia-Pacific regional trade negotiations, although it would be difficult to reach an agreement by the end of the year, according to Jiji press.

Trade ministers from the 12 nations participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact held talks on the sidelines of an annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) meeting in Beijing.

The regional trade pact was stalled in September, as the U.S. and Japan, the two biggest economies participating in the trade deal, blamed the other for a stalemate over tariffs on farm products.

Japan wants to protect sensitive goods, including beef, pork, rice and dairy, which are important to its farming sector, while the United States seeks to protect U.S. carmakers from increased Japanese competition. The United States insists that Japan lower barriers to agricultural imports.

Reporting By Teppei Kasai; Editing by Jeremy Laurence

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