WASHINGTON The United States and Japan agreed language on Friday that could set the stage for Tokyo to join negotiations soon on a U.S.-led regional free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
In a carefully worded statement following a meeting between President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the two countries reaffirmed that "all goods would subject to negotiations if Japan joins the talks with the United States and ten other countries.
At the same time, the statement envisions a possible outcome where the United States could maintain tariffs on Japanese automobiles and Japan could still protect its rice sector.
"Recognizing that both countries have bilateral trade sensitivities, such as certain agricultural products for Japan and certain manufactured products for the United States, the two governments confirm that, as the final outcome will be determined during the negotiations, it is not required to make a prior commitment to unilaterally eliminate all tariffs upon joining the TPP negotiations," the statement said.
(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal and Doug Palmer; Editing by David Brunnstrom)