U.S. and Japanese trade officials met here Tuesday for talks over a regional free trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)."Japanese officials underscored the Japanese government's readiness to engage with the United States on a range of issues going forward," spokeswoman Carol Guthrie from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement."As a next step, both governments agreed to hold a follow-up meeting at the working level on February 21 to 22 in Washington, D.C., as the consultative process continues," she added.Japan's bid faces strong opposition from U.S. auto makers and labor unions who doubted whether Tokyo was ready to open its market to more car imports.
The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said in a statement that the Japanese domestic market was "fully open" and that consumer choice is the main reason behind Japan's low level of imports."We have to go through a very deliberative process," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said recently.The United States and other current TPP members hope to conclude the agreement before the end of this year. But the pact has also met strong opposition from Japanese farmers.