WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and Japan have made “big progress” in bilateral trade talks and shared the understanding of the directionality of the trade talks, Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Japan’s Minister of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi speaks during the signing agreement ceremony for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, in Santiago, Chile March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

Motegi, speaking to reporters following the conclusion of a third day of meetings with his counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, said details on the method and timeline of those negotiations would be discussed over the weekend at a Group of Seven leaders summit in Biarritz, France.

“We made a big progress. We shared the directionality of the trades,” Motegi told reporters in Washington, D.C.

He also said the three-day talks ended Friday would probably be the last ministerial level talks, and working-level officials will continue to work on details.

“I think how we proceed the talks from now on, and the time schedule will be announced at the summit meeting scheduled in Biarritz,” he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump plan to hold a meeting on the sidelines of a weekend Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France.

Motegi said the two leaders would confirm the progress that was made at the ministerial meetings and decide how to proceed.

“We have been making efforts to narrow gaps,” Motegi said.

“We negotiated to protect Japan’s position, our position of agriculture.”

Motegi and Lighthizer initially planned two days of talks, but negotiations extended to a third day on Friday in an effort to narrow differences on areas such as agriculture and automobiles.

Trump is unhappy with Tokyo’s large trade surplus, and he could pile pressure on Japan to curb its auto exports to the United States and open its highly protected agriculture market to fix what he calls unfair trade imbalances.

Japan calls for cuts to U.S. tariffs on Japan’s industrial goods such as auto parts.

Motegi declined to comment on details but said the negotiations were based on the two nations’ joint statement in September. That said Japan could make no concessions beyond what Tokyo has agreed on other economic partnerships.

During his visit to France, Trump will talk to his counterparts about how to open up their markets to ensure U.S. businesses have avenues to sell good and services.

The U.S. and China are also engaged in an expensive trade dispute that has roiled financial markets worldwide.

Reporting by David Lawder, Andrea Shalal and Jonas Ekblom in Washington, Chizu Nomiyama in New York and Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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