You are here

Japan, US agree to accelerate trade talks from July

doc75zjozcr2tj3hgwd8m0_doc75i40n00tk1ahbgwfmt.jpg
The agreement between Mr Motegi and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer comes after a meeting of the world's largest and third biggest economies on the sidelines of a G20 summit of world leaders in Osaka, with trade issues high on the agenda.

[OSAKA] Japan and the United States agreed on Friday to hold working-level meetings intensively from early next month to accelerate progress towards a two-way trade agreement, Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said.

The agreement between Mr Motegi and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer comes after a meeting of the world's largest and third biggest economies on the sidelines of a G20 summit of world leaders in Osaka, with trade issues high on the agenda.

The two leaders agreed to accelerate trade talks and had agreed the alliance was stronger than ever, a Japanese government official told reporters.

The prospects for a two-way deal raise fears that Japan may cave into pressure from the United States to open up its highly protected agriculture markets, such as beef and rice.

"We share understanding of each other's thinking and stance and where our gap lies. Based on that, we are discussing ways to narrow our differences," Mr Motegi told reporters, without elaborating.

Your feedback is important to us

Tell us what you think. Email us at btuserfeedback@sph.com.sg

The two sides confirmed the outcome of working-level meetings during the last two weeks focusing on agriculture and industrial goods. They did not discuss the timing for conclusion of a deal, Mr Motegi added.

Analysts widely expect the two sides will be unlikely to strike a deal at least until after Japan's upper house election next month, since farmers are a key pillar of support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

US President Donald Trump has vowed to resolve what he calls unfair trade imbalances with trading partners, under his "America First" protectionism agenda.

To achieve this, Mr Trump has also threatened to slap higher tariffs on car imports, including those from Japan, which he said could threaten the US national security.

China and the United States are locked in a trade dispute and expectations have dimmed that Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping can ease tension when they meet on Saturday in the western Japanese city. 

REUTERS

BT is now on Telegram!

For daily updates on weekdays and specially selected content for the weekend. Subscribe to t.me/BizTimes