Saturday morning’s Mainichi published a preview of the U.S.-Japan economic dialogue to be held in Washington on Monday, projecting that the two sides are likely to agree to enhance bilateral coordination is such areas as U.S. energy exports to Japan and Japan’s infrastructure investment in the United States. However, the two sides may not be able to find middle ground on such trade issues as autos, beef, and intellectual property.
Sunday’s Tokyo Shimbun ran a similar story, adding that it is uncertain whether the U.S. side will propose launching bilateral FTA negotiations during Monday’s session. The paper quoted an unnamed senior USG official as saying: “The White House is preoccupied with the NAFTA renegotiations. While President Trump may mention a ‘bilateral’ agreement, FTA talks probably won’t start any time soon.”
In a related development, Monday’s Asahi and Mainichi took up press remarks made by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on Saturday about the upcoming economic dialogue. “Japan is one of our most important allies and an important trading partner,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a very frank and open discussion.” However, the Treasury chief declined to state whether the U.S. side will propose launching bilateral FTA talks.