The US and Japan appear to have eased the way for Japan to take part in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks, although the two sides acknowledge that "more work remains to be done."

A White House statement released following a meeting last week between President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said that should Japan participate in the TPP negotiations, all goods would be subject to negotiation.

But it added "it is not required to make a prior commitment to unilaterally eliminate all tariffs upon joining the TPP negotiations," with the final outcome being "determined during the negotiations."

The wording leaves open a possible outcome that addresses Japanese concerns on agricultural products such as rice, as well as those of the US on its automotive sector.

The two governments have pledged to continue their bilateral consultations.

Other TPP nations already taking part in the negotiations are the US, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and Peru, plus new members Canada and Mexico.