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[TOKYO] A broad agreement on a Pacific rim trade deal could be reached next month, Japan's Economy Minister Akira Amari said on Wednesday, as the US Senate moved towards a vote on giving President Barack Obama "fast-track" negotiating authority.
If the vote goes in Obama's favour it would give him the power to speed trade deals through Congress, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The fast-track measure would then go to the White House for Obama's signature.
Mr Amari told reporters there would be no major obstacle to the formation of the 12-nation TPP if the Senate grants Obama trade promotion authority (TPA). "Once the TPA bill is enacted, there won't be a big hurdle," Mr Amari said. "It is necessary for each nation to have determination to reach an agreement within July." Mr Amari also said that once Mr Obama signs the TPA, Japan and the US will resume talks on a bilateral trade deal, seen as crucial step toward an agreement on the TPP.