Japan farm tariffs may stymie US-led trade deal

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Associated Press

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 4:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 25 at 4:02 AM

TOKYO (AP) — Prospects for a comprehensive agreement on a trans-Pacific trade pact appear increasingly uncertain as the U.S. and Japan struggle over Tokyo's commitment to keep tariffs on hundreds of farm products.

Japan's top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said Tuesday that the two sides were still trying to bridge their differences at the 12-nation talks underway in Singapore.

But the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun said U.S. officials were considering an agreement that might initially exclude Japan.

When Japan committed to joining the trade arrangement, dubbed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it said it would insist on protecting key farm products. The Yomiuri said one option may be to eliminate tariffs on products not imported before 2010.

Differences remain between other countries on issues other than farm products, such as reform of state industries.

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