Japan, U.S. to discuss trade 'framework', U.S. envoy says: NHK

FILE PHOTO: U.S. ambassador to Japan William Hagerty attends a news conference at Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, Japan November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and the United States next week will start to discuss a framework of negotiations with the aim of concluding a trade pact and fixing bilateral trade imbalances, Japanese public broadcaster NHK quoted the U.S. ambassador to Japan as saying.

“Our national security partnership is deep and growing stronger every day, and we need to see our economic partnership continue to strengthen in the same direction,” U.S. envoy William Hagerty said in the news programme aired on Friday.

“We will be able to settle on a specific framework to move forward. I think certainly by the spring of 2018 we’ll see forward progress and momentum,” he said.

The United States wants to boost exports to Japan in areas such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), farm products and medicines, Hagerty told NHK.

Working-level officials from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office will visit Tokyo next week, he added.

Japan has shown little interest in pursuing a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, preferring instead to push for a modified version of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. from the pact.

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Richard Borsuk