April 24, 2014 / 11:12 PM / in 5 years

Japan says no trade deal with U.S. as Obama prepares to depart

U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) and Japan's Emperor Akihito (2nd R) offer toasts to each other during the Japan State Dinner at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, April 24, 2014, in this handout photo released by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan. REUTERS/Imperial Household Agency of Japan/Handout via Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and the United States have made progress in trade talks but not reached the deal that they were hoping to seal at a bilateral summit, Economy Minister Akira Amari said on Friday.

“This time we can’t say there’s a basic agreement,” Amari told reporters after a second day of nearly around-the-clock talks failed to settle differences over farm products and cars.

But he said, “Overall, the gaps are steadily narrowing” between the two sides, which did not issue the customary joint statement after Thursday’s summit between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Tokyo had said the meeting was an “important juncture” for a bilateral deal, which would in turn be key to a delayed 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

TPP is high on Abe’s economic agenda and central to Obama’s policy of expanding the U.S. presence in Asia. Obama ends his three-day Japan state visit Friday morning and heads for South Korea.

Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Writing by Dominic Lau; Editing by William Mallard

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