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International relations

US and Japan make progress toward trade deal by September

Ministerial talks in late August to iron out issues on autos and beef

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, right, and his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi, meet in Washington on Aug. 1. They plan to meet there again on Aug. 21-22.   © Kyodo

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. and Japan inched closer to a broad trade agreement by the end of September, following two-day working-level talks that ended in Washington on Wednesday.

The two sides discussed issues including bilateral market access for farm products and cars. There are still a few sticking points, such as Japanese imports of U.S. beef, that must be resolved before a deal can be hashed out, Japanese officials said.

"The two sides are getting on the same page," Kazuhisa Shibuya, a senior official who led the Japanese delegation, told reporters after the talks. "We had a good discussion," he added, noting that progress has been made since previous rounds, where talks were snagged over some issues.

The latest round also saw the two sides take up remaining issues, such as rules of origin, which set out rules, such as local content requirements, that products must have to qualify under preferential trade arrangements.

The meeting was attended by officials from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and from Japan's trade, farm and finance ministries.

Attention will now shift to a meeting between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, which is scheduled for Aug. 21-22 in Washington. The two ministers last met in Washington on Aug. 1-2.

The two countries hope to iron out the remaining issues at the ministerial talks, so that a broad agreement can be announced when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits the U.S. for discussions with President Donald Trump during the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York in late September.

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