TOKYO — US Trade Representative Michael Froman on Monday urged Japan to open its market to American cars and insurance companies to pave the way for a broader regional free trade agreement.
Froman said ongoing talks dealing with such historical sticking points are tied to the success of the larger Pacific free trade negotiations.
Japan joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which involve 12 countries, on July 23. The Japan-US talks are dealing with nontariff barriers such as the auto and insurance industries.
Froman said that imported vehicles make up a tiny fraction of the Japanese market, although nearly half the US auto market is controlled by foreign manufacturers.
The United States also believes Japanese government-backed insurance services have an advantage over private and foreign companies.
The Japanese government said Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Froman agreed on the importance of the Pacific trade deal for economic growth and stability.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a proponent of the Pacific trade pact, despite running the risk of domestic criticism, such as from farmers who fear cheap imports.
Froman said the talks aim for a comprehensive agreement later this year.