Japan, U.S. bilateral TPP talks on autos ends without major progress

Japan and the United States ended bilateral working-level talks in Tokyo on Thursday over opening Japan's auto sector as part of the Pacific free trade initiatives, with the two countries failing to produce significant progress.

"Though our mutual understanding advanced as a whole, there was no major progress," Takeo Mori, Japanese ambassador in charge of economic diplomacy, told reporters after the talks. The two nations will continue to hold negotiations but they could not decide specific dates for the next meeting.

The talks, also attended by Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler, were aimed at bridging gaps over nontariff measures in the auto sector, which has been one of the sticking points in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations.

Washington has urged Tokyo to open the auto market further, saying existing nontariff barriers such as regulatory standards prevent U.S. automakers from expanding sales in Japan.

The TPP involves Japan, the United States and 10 other countries, but solving problems between the two biggest economies in the TPP framework is seen as vital to advance the broad negotiations.