Next week’s meeting between President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a good opportunity to give impetus to Pacific trade negotiations but will not seal a deal, a senior U.S. administration official said Friday.
Talks between the United States and Japan seen as vital to a broader regional trade pact had narrowed to a few critical areas and will resume Monday, officials of both countries said, as negotiators hustle to prepare for Thursday’s summit.
Breaking a U.S.-Japan deadlock over access to Japan’s farm and auto markets is seen as key to finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade bloc that would stretch from Asia to Latin America.
The TPP is central to Obama’s policy of expanding the U.S. presence in Asia, and Abe has touted the bloc as a main element of his strategy to reform the world’s third-largest economy and generate sustainable growth.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari wound up a 20-hour negotiating session earlier Friday with major gaps still on display.
“We still have big differences,” Amari told reporters in Washington before he left for Tokyo, according to Kyodo news agency, although he said “the gaps are getting smaller.”
A federal judge has rejected an attempt by American Airlines to quickly cut off benefits for many of its retirees.
American wants retirees who wish to keep their benefits to pay all the cost. The dispute could go to negotiations or a trial.
On Friday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Sean Lane in New York rejected a request made by American’s former parent, AMR, for the right to immediately eliminate retiree benefits for former pilots, flight attendants and other union workers. Lane granted AMR’s request for a group of nonunion workers.
The company had 46,930 retirees when it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011.
“American will review his ruling and consider next steps related to the retiree health and life insurance benefits,” American spokesman Casey Norton said in an e-mail.
Catherine Steege, a lawyer for the committee representing the retirees, said the ruling should cause American to stop trying to terminate the benefits.
AMR emerged from Chapter 11 protection last December as American Airlines Group after merging with US Airways.
— Associated Press
● Lululemon Athletica won dismissal of claims that shareholders lost $2 billion because the athletic-wear company misled them about quality problems with its products, including bleeding colors and see-through yoga pants. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan dismissed shareholder claims against the Vancouver, B.C.-based company, founder and director Dennis Wilson and former chief executive Christine McCormick Day. Forrest said the investors failed to show that statements made by company officials were false and misleading.
● Canadian Pacific Railway told a U.S. federal oversight board that moving fertilizer for spring planting does not present a “significant challenge” for the railroad. Recent service problems in the U.S. rail network spurred the Surface Transportation Board to hold a hearing last week, during which farmers and representatives for agriculture producers said rail delays could disrupt planting. The board ordered Canadian Pacific and BNSF Railway to report their plans by Friday to ensure timely delivery of fertilizer, which helps boost production of wheat, corn and other crops.
● U.S. newspaper industry revenue continued to fall last year, as increases in circulation revenue failed to offset shrinking demand for print advertising. The Newspaper Association of America said the industry’s revenue fell 2.6 percent to $37.59 billion in 2013.
● Plaintiffs’ lawyers are seeking to draw Continental Automotive Systems U.S., the maker of airbag systems in recalled General Motors vehicles, into litigation over an ignition-switch defect that has been linked to 13 deaths. A lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in California is the first to name Continental, a subsidiary of German automotive supplier Continental, in a growing wave of litigation over GM’s recall, which has so far encompassed 2.6 million vehicles. Continental made airbag systems for the recalled cars, including sensors that determine if and when the airbags go off in an accident, according to the suit.
● Rengan Rajaratnam, the brother of imprisoned hedge-fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, lost a bid in federal court in Manhattan to dismiss insider-trading charges and to exclude evidence gathered from government wiretaps. The trial of Rengan Rajaratnam, who is charged with six counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy, is scheduled to begin June 17.
● Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi cut taxes for 10 million low earners to try to boost household spending after a two-year recession, making good on a promise he made after taking office two months ago. The $9.5 billion in tax cuts will be funded by a mix of spending reductions, one-off windfalls and a “review” of spending on Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet, Renzi told reporters.
— From news services