The United States and Japan next week will start to discuss a framework of negotiations with the aim of concluding a trade pact, while fixing bilateral trade imbalances, U.S. ambassador to Japan William Hagerty said this week, according to a Reuters report.

“Our national security partnership is deep and growing stronger every day, and we need to see our economic partnership continue to strengthen in the same direction,” Hagerty said. The United States wishes to boost exports to Japan in areas such as farm products, liquefied natural gals and medicines.  However, up to this point, Japan has not had much interest in pursuing a free trade agreement with the United States, preferring instead to push for a modified version of the Trans Pacific Partnership, after President Trump withdrew the United States from the pact.

Officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will visit Tokyo next week.  “I think certainly by the spring of 2018, we will see forward progress and momentum,” Hagerty said.