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US, Japan unlikely to wrap up trade deal by May TPP talks: Japan official

Published on Apr 27, 2014 12:41 PM

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan and the United States have found "common ground" to forge a two-way trade deal, but may not be able to resolve remaining sticking points in time for a mid-May meeting of top negotiators seeking a broad regional deal, a senior Japanese official said.

Marathon talks during US President Barack Obama's state visit to Tokyo last week yielded progress - hailed by the two sides as a "key milestone" - but the two sides stopped short of announcing a deal vital to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation bloc that would extend from Asia to Latin America.

The upbeat tone, however, was a contrast to the emphasis on"gaps" after previous rounds of talks on a bilateral deal that has been stalemated by differences over access to Japan's agriculture market and both countries' car markets.

"What Obama's visit produced after many lengthy negotiations was a common ground on which the two sides believe we can continue to work to find a mutually acceptable solution," the senior Japanese official told Reuters. He declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the talks.

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