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Japan, Australia foreign ministers affirm closer security, trade ties

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop agreed Friday to further strengthen security cooperation and confirmed accelerated efforts to sign and ratify a bilateral free trade accord following the broad agreement earlier this week, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said. Kishida and Bishop agreed to utilize a planned "two-plus-two" meeting of foreign and defense ministers of the two countries in June in Tokyo to reinforce their bilateral ties, the ministry said.

U.S. Trade Representative: Talks with Japan 'tough,' will continue

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan-U.S. trade negotiations this week were "tough" but are making progress toward an agreement, a key element of Pacific-wide talks, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said on Thursday. Tokyo and Washington are hoping to reach a broad agreement on the bilateral outstanding issues at a summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Japanese capital on April 24, seen as a possible milestone for advancing the stalled TPP talks involving the two countries and 10 others.

U.S. Trade Representative: Talks with Japan 'tough,' will continue

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan-U.S. trade negotiations this week were "tough" but are making progress toward an agreement, a key element of Pacific-wide talks, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said on Thursday. Tokyo and Washington are hoping to reach a broad agreement on the bilateral outstanding issues at a summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Japanese capital on April 24, seen as a possible milestone for advancing the stalled TPP talks involving the two countries and 10 others.

TPP more ambitious than Japan-Australia deal: U.S. trade chief

The U.S. trade chief said Tuesday that the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative aims at a higher level of trade liberalization than the accord reached by Japan and Australia, playing down the impact of the bilateral agreement on the broader TPP negotiations. "I don't think it (the Japan-Australia free trade agreement) has much effect one way or the other" on the 12-country TPP talks, said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, who is slated to meet with his Japanese counterpart Akira Amari in Tokyo on Wednesday to discuss outstanding TPP issues.

TPP more ambitious than Japan-Australia deal: U.S. trade chief

The U.S. trade chief said Tuesday that the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiative aims at a higher level of trade liberalization than the accord reached by Japan and Australia, playing down the impact of the bilateral agreement on the broader TPP negotiations. "I don't think it (the Japan-Australia free trade agreement) has much effect one way or the other" on the 12-country TPP talks, said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, who is slated to meet with his Japanese counterpart Akira Amari in Tokyo on Wednesday to discuss outstanding TPP issues.

Australia 'optimistic' about Japan free trade talks

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sunday he was "optimistic" about his country's free trade talks with Japan but was unsure when the two countries could strike a deal. Government ministers from the two countries failed to reach an agreement after five hours of negotiations in Tokyo on Saturday as they remained divided on Australia's demand for a sharp cut in Japan's import tariffs on beef.

Japan, Australia struggle to reach free trade agreement

Japanese and Australian ministers made last-ditch efforts Saturday to strike a free trade agreement before a bilateral summit next week, but remained apart on sticking points. Australian trade minister Andrew Robb, who held talks with Japanese farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi for some five hours in Tokyo, told reporters that they have agreed "on some important issues" but are still negotiating "a couple of important, substantial issues."

Japan, Australia ministers discuss FTA, seek outcome before summit

Japan and Australia held ministerial talks over a bilateral free trade agreement Saturday in Tokyo as the two countries make last-ditch efforts to narrow gaps and yield an outcome at a planned summit next week. Japanese farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australian trade minister Andrew Robb are expected to discuss how substantially Tokyo will slash its tariffs on beef, the major sticking point in concluding a deal.

Japan, Australia ministers to discuss FTA, seek outcome before summit

Japan and Australia will hold ministerial talks over a bilateral free trade accord on Saturday in Tokyo as the two countries make last-ditch efforts to narrow gaps and yield an outcome at a planned summit next week. Japanese farm minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australian trade minister Andrew Robb are expected to discuss how substantially Tokyo will slash its tariffs on beef, the major sticking point in concluding seven-year-old negotiations.

U.S. must show flexibility for Pacific trade breakthrough: Japan

By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Japan said on Friday it would be difficult to achieve a breakthrough in talks with the United States on a Pacific trade deal in time for President Barack Obama's trip to Asia next month unless Washington shows flexibility. The two sides had made "very slow but steady progress" in talks in Washington this week on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Japan's deputy chief trade negotiator Hiroshi Oe told reporters.
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