Japan, U.S. make progress in trade talks; key gaps remain

Froman takes part in an onstage interview during The Atlantic Economy Summit in WashingtonBy Antoni Slodkowski TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese and U.S. trade officials made progress on Wednesday in negotiations meant to spur a broad Pacific trade pact and prepare for a visit by President Barack Obama, but they remain apart on some major issues, both sides said. “We made some progress, but we still have gaps between us,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told reporters after 11 hours of negotiations with Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari. Japan and the United States are seeking a two-way trade deal, regarded as a key part of the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that is the centerpiece of Washington’s push to increase its Asian presence, before Obama travels to Japan for an April 24-25 state visit. Amari said “debate has deepened considerably in some areas” in the talks, which focus on access to Japan’s agricultural market and both countries’ car markets.