April 28, 2015 / 5:29 AM / in 3 years

Japan's Amari plays down expectations on U.S. trade deal progress

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari played down the prospect of substantial progress in trade talks being announced after a summit meeting between Japan and the United States on Tuesday.

Japan's Economics Minister Akira Amari (R) shakes hands with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman ahead of their meeting in Tokyo April 19, 2015. REUTERS/Ataru Haruna/Pool

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK said a joint statement after the meeting would probably refer to “substantial progress” in negotiations between the two countries on a trade deal and would talk of them cooperating to move towards an agreement on the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact

However, Amari told a news conference: “The most we could expect in a joint statement is to say there is ‘welcome progress’ (on a Japan-U.S. trade deal).”

The trade negotiations between the two are seen as crucial for the wider TPP as their economies account for 80 percent of the group involved in the talks.

Amari said progress had been made on some aspects of the trade talks between the two countries but other aspects were “deadlocked” and he expected the two leaders to instruct officials to make efforts towards an early agreement.

The two leaders are unlikely to discuss details of the trade deal.

The White House said last week it did not expect a formal announcement on the Japan-U.S. trade deal during Abe’s visit.

Reporting by Takashi Umekara; Writing by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Alan Raybould

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