Japan and the US have agreed to let Tokyo join the talks on the U.S.-led Asia-Pacific free trade pact.

This agreement talks Japan one step closer to entering talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the Asia country hopes to join as early as July. The TPP is a keystone for Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy to open the country’s economy and increase growth.

“Japan and the United States have reached an agreement on Japan’s participation in the TPP talks,” Abe told reporters on Friday after a meeting with cabinet ministers.”I think Japan’s national interests are protected under this U.S.-Japan agreement.”

Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis announced that Japan has accepted “a robust package of actions and agreements” to deal with the US concerns related to the insurance, automotive and other sectors. Still, House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp said that Japan still has several obstacles ahead before joining TPP.

“I will not support Japan’s entry into TPP unless we obtain airtight assurances that Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations will neither diminish the comprehensive and ambitious nature of these negotiations nor delay the goal of concluding the negotiations this year,” he said.

Washington and Tokyo agreed the US will phase out auto tariffs by 2.5% on cars and 25% on trucks for as longest period as possible, and that the two nations will continue talks on non-tariff barriers in sectors such as investment and insurance.


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