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Vice President Pence, Aso exchange views on bilateral trade

All national dailies except Sankei wrote that Vice President Pence met with Deputy Prime Minister Aso on Wednesday evening to discuss bilateral economic issues. Nikkei reported that Aso conveyed to the Vice President the importance of creating common trade rules in the Asia-Pacific region. According to Kyodo, a Japanese government source said Vice President Pence referred to the possibility of the U.S. returning to the TPP if Washington can renegotiate it with better terms. Noting that yesterday’s 20-minute session between Aso and the Vice President was not part of the bilateral economic dialogue, Yomiuri said they apparently did not hold in-depth talks. The paper added that the U.S. is growing increasingly frustrated that the economic dialogue has not picked up momentum.

Mainichi claimed that the Vice President expressed interest in a bilateral FTA and mentioned the Trump administration’s possible return to the TPP on the condition that the terms would be more beneficial to the United States. By citing an unnamed GOJ source, Tokyo Shimbun also claimed that the Vice President referred to a possible U.S. return in response to Aso’s inquiry about President Trump’s remarks in Davos in January regarding the regional free trade pact. The two officials reportedly agreed to expedite the economic dialogue.

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