Japan offers compromise on rice in Asia-Pacific trade talks – Nikkei

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan has offered to import more rice from the United States in a compromise aimed at pushing forward the Asia-Pacific regional trade talks, the Nikkei reported on Sunday.

A stand-off between the United States and Japan over access to farm and auto markets has been holding up negotiations over the 12-nation trade pact, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The Nikkei business daily, citing unidentified sources, said Japan was offering to increase its tariff-free quota for imported rice and import some “tens of thousands” of tonnes of additional rice from the United States. It plans to maintain existing rice tariffs, it said.

In turn, the United States has dropped its request that Japan ease safety standards on car imports, the report said, adding that such moves were likely to help the two countries reach an agreement in the spring and conclude the TPP deal.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s top Asia adviser said on Wednesday the administration’s goal was to complete the trade pact this year.

In his State of the Union address, Obama called on Congress to approve “fast track” authority for big trade agreements with Asia-Pacific and European countries, which allow only a “yes” or “no” vote on the finished product.

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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