TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and the United States remain far apart on bilateral trade talks that are key to a Pacific-wide trade deal, Japanese economy minister Akira Amari said on Friday.
The two biggest economies in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks are seeking agreement on their key bilateral issues - cars for the United States and farm products such as rice for Japan - to facilitate a deal among the 12 Pacific Rim nations in the talks.
Amari told a regular news conference that “considerable gaps remain” between Tokyo and Washington.
Negotiators had hoped to strike a bilateral deal this week in Tokyo ahead of a TPP ministers’ meeting starting on Saturday in Singapore.
“Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe) instructed me to make my utmost efforts in the negotiations,” Amari said. He said he would seek “an early resolution, pressing where we need to press and defending where we need to defend.”
Reporting by Takaya Yamaguchi; Writing by William Mallard; Editing by Edmund Klamann