April 28, 2017 / 1:50 AM / 5 months ago

Japan will not make concessions in two-way trade talks with U.S.-Nikkei

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso speaks at Columbia Business School in New York City, U.S., April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will not make concessions on issues such as farm tariffs in two-way trade talks with the United States as it did for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso told the Nikkei business daily in an interview.

The two started an economic dialogue this month and Vice President Mike Pence put Tokyo on notice that Washington wanted results “in the near future”, adding that the talks could lead to negotiations on a two-way trade deal.

“If we do bilateral negotiations with the United States, we can’t make any concessions,” Aso said in Thursday’s interview.

“It’d be good if the U.S. joined the TPP later on, once it understands that a free trade agreement would have tougher terms.”

In January, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 12-nation TPP, and stressed that Washington would pursue bilateral trade talks.

Washington probably would want to give an answer by its mid-term elections in 2018, Aso said, the Nikkei added.

Aso, who also serves as deputy prime minister, said that

the TPP without the U.S. could be ratified “quickly”, adding there is no chance for renegotiation, the report said.

“Since we went to the trouble of spending three years,” in negotiating the trade pact, “it should be ratified,” the Nikkei quoted Aso as saying.

“There will be no renegotiation of terms.”

Following the United States’ departure, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam are still signed up to TPP, though most have put off ratifying it.

The TPP requires ratification by at least six countries accounting for 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the member nations.

That criteria can not be met without the U.S., so remaining 11 nations would need to change the wording if they want to ratify the TPP pact.

(This story has been refiled to fix spelling in second last paragraph)

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Kim Coghill

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