OTTAWA—Japanese officials say they believed they were also negotiating with Canada and Mexico when they struck a controversial side agreement with the United States on automobiles last year during the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.
They discussed the agreement with U.S., which angered Canada and Mexico, in a briefing ahead of a meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida.
The Japan-U.S. deal, which would have allowed a higher percentage of Japanese parts in cars in North America’s highly integrated auto sector, stalled completion of the 12-country Pacific Rim deal by at least two months.
The Japanese officials say they were surprised to learn that they had negotiated a deal with only the United States, but they did not explain why they thought that.
Mexico’s former ambassador to Canada has said the side deal angered the Canadians and Mexicans and nearly drove the two countries from the bargaining table.
Japan hosts this year’s G7 summit, and Dion and Kishida have a broad agenda that also includes combating terrorism and nuclear proliferation.