Japan TPP chief negotiator: No change to goal to hold ministerial talks - Jiji

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's chief negotiator of a proposed Pacific regional trade deal said that there is no change to the goal of holding ministerial level talks despite the U.S. Senate blocking debate on a fast-track bill, Jiji news agency reported on Wednesday. Koji Tsuruoka said it is unclear if ministers could make a political decision on the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) if the trade promotion bill in the United States isn't passed, Jiji said. Ministers from the 12 countries are expected to hold talks from May 26-28 in the Philippines. Tsuruoka, speaking to reporters before heading to Guam for TPP chief negotiator talks from May 15, said no effort will be spared in pursuing progress on trade negotiations, Jiji added. U.S. Senate Democrats delivered a major blow to President Barack Obama's trade agenda on Tuesday, blocking debate on the bill that would have smoothed the path for TPP pact. [ID:nL1N0Y32K0] Separately, a Japanese government official told Reuters that it would be hard for TPP countries to close a deal on the trade pact unless the United States enacts the fast-track legislation. (Reporting by Kaori Kaneko & Linda Sieg; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)