TOKYO Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari said on Tuesday it is becoming "extremely difficult" to hold ministerial talks on a Pacific trade pact unless a fast-track bill is passed in the United States.
Approval of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives would give momentum to negotiations on the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)trade deal.
"TPP talks won't be concluded unless the TPA bill is passed," Amari told a news conference adding he is hoping for a swift passage of the bill in the United States.
"It is becoming an extremely difficult situation as to whether ministerial talks will be held."
Chief negotiators from TPP member nations have been in Guam since the weekend to talk about issues ranging from labor to intellectual property.
There has been speculation that ministers from TPP member nations may hold talks on the sidelines of APEC trade ministers meeting, which will be held in the Philippines at the end of this week, or thereafter at another venue.
U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said in Washington on Monday that he is prepared to stay as long as necessary to pass the TPA bill before lawmakers go on a break at the end of this week.
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Stanley White)