U.S. proposes 30-year phase-out of tariffs on Japanese autos, report says

Subaru cars sit bound for shipment at a port in Kawasaki, Japan, in September 2013. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

TOKYO (Reuters) -- The United States has proposed eliminating over 30 years its tariffs on Japanese light vehicles but Japan rejected the proposal because the time period is unusually long, Kyodo News reported on Saturday.

The proposal was made during bilateral trade talks seen as critical for a broader regional pact, said the Kyodo report, which cited unidentified sources close to the matter.

Japan and the United States are seeking a bilateral deal, a cornerstone of the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP at the center of Washington's push to increase its Asian presence, before President Barack Obama's state visit to Japan on April 24-25.

Officials from the Japanese government's TPP taskforce could not be reached immediately for comment on the Kyodo report.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Japanese Economics Minister Akira Amari concluded talks on Thursday, with both saying big gaps remain despite progress.

The United States wants Japan to open its rice, beef and pork, dairy and sugar sectors, while Japan seeks a timetable on U.S. promises to drop tariffs of 2.5 percent on imports of passenger cars and 25 percent on light trucks.

Japan is arranging for Amari to travel to the United States for more talks next week, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Friday.

The TPP framework is a key part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's growth strategy. Abe and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott reached a basic agreement on a bilateral agreement between their two countries on Monday after talks in Tokyo.

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