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U.S. lawmakers talk trade deal in Japan

Staff writer |
A bipartisan congressional agreement on granting President Barack Obama trade promotion authority for a pan-Pacific trade deal is likely this spring, U.S. lawmakers visiting Japan said.

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Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and seven other lawmakers were meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other top Japanese officials, promoting the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Ryan and the other lawmakers said they believed the partnership was crucial for both economies and that there was growing support for giving the president the authority to reach an agreement.

"We see a good team building on this issue. We're working with Democrats right now in drafting [trade promotion authority] legislation," Ryan said.

Progress toward a final agreement among the dozen countries involved in the trade talks hinges partly on settling disputes between the U.S. and Japan on the trade of farm products and autos that have obliged negotiators to keep pushing deadlines back.

Trade promotion authority would set guidelines but let the White House send Congress a trade proposal to adopt or reject, but not amend. Every president since Franklin Roosevelt has had some form of enhanced trade-dealing powers, but Obama still lacks it.

Without that guarantee, it is harder for the other countries involved in the talks to make tough political decisions.

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