Japan and Australia will reach a trade deal on Monday, Japanese media said, spurring Tokyo's parallel talks with the United States as Pacific nations struggle for a broader agreement.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Monday, will announce the basic bilateral agreement, featuring cuts to Tokyo's tariffs on imported beef and Canberra ending its duty on cars, the Nikkei, Asahi and Yomiuri newspapers reported.
While working on the economic partnership agreement with Australia, Japan is also in negotiations with the United States ahead of a visit late this month by President Barack Obama.
The two sets of bilateral talks are meant to help spur an overdue agreement on a broader Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.
Abbott had said on Sunday that he hoped for a quick conclusion to thorny free trade negotiations with Japan but suggested time might be needed to ensure conclusion of a "satisfactory" pact.
If Tokyo and Canberra agree, "Australia gets preferential treatment over the U.S., and America will be under pressure to strike a TPP deal short-term that puts it on a level playing field with Australia," said Aurelia George Mulgan, a professor of Japanese politics at the University of New South Wales.
Abbott, who has set a bilateral deal as a top priority, told the Asahi that Australia was prepared to make big concessions on cars and that cuts in Japan's beef tariffs would benefit Japan's consumers.