AMBASSADOR FROMAN: Amari-san and I have just completed two days of intensive discussions. Our teams arrived expecting that the talks would be tough, and our expectations have been met. We understand the challenges, these negotiations relate to fundamental reforms in the market opening of sectors in Japan that have traditionally been closed. But let’s keep in mind the TPP offers enormous opportunities for both Japan and the United States. These opportunities are what brought us into the negotiations in the first place, and which guided the commitments made by our governments and our leaders to achieve a high-standard, ambitious, and comprehensive agreement. These opportunities are aligned with Japan’s own economic reform agenda.
We’ve made some progress over the last two days, but there are still considerable differences in our positions on key issues. We agreed today that our negotiators will keep working through the end of the week to continue the discussion on agriculture and autos. We’ve instructed them to make as much progress as they can to continue to bridge the gaps and report back to each of us so that we can agree on next steps. I’m happy to take a few questions.
QUESTION: Did you agree on beef and pork?
AMBASSADOR FROMAN: We talked about all issues, but have yet to reach an agreement.
QUESTION: Ambassador, you said yesterday that there is no specific deadline. April 24 is not a deadline. But everybody knows that missing that opportunity may mean significant delay in the TPP. Are you now more hopeful for an early conclusion or a broader agreement?
AMBASSADOR FROMAN: We’ve always said that the substance of the negotiations should determine the timetable, and that continues to be the case now. We’ll continue to work to make progress, to bridge the outstanding issues, and we’ll continue to do that until we’re done.
QUESTION: There’s been a press report that Japan is working on a proposal to lower tariffs on U.S. beef imports under 10 percent. Did they that make that offer, and what’s your stance, what’s your response to that offer?
AMBASSADOR FROMAN: Well, I’m not going to comment on any specific part of the negotiations, just to say that we discussed all of the issues, and we’ll continue to discuss them.
QUESTION: What do you think is important to bridge the differences?
AMBASSADOR FROMAN: Well, I think it’s important that both sides come to the table recognizing the importance of TPP to their economy, to the region, to the global economy, and take the steps necessary to achieve the high-standard, ambitious, comprehensive agreement that our leaders agreed to seek. Thanks very much.