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Japan, EU to effectuate EPA next year to counter U.S. hardline trade policies

A meeting of the trade ministers of Japan, the U.S., and the EU on Sept. 25 agreed on forming an “encirclement of China” by jointly submitting proposals for WTO reforms, with its unfair trade practices in mind. However, the Trump administration is adopting an increasingly protectionist posture, contemplating the imposition of steep tariffs on imported cars. While Japan and Europe will work with the U.S. in dealing with China, they intend to effectuate their economic partnership agreement (EPA) next year to counter the hardline Trump administration.

 

In his news conference after the meeting, Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Hiroshige Seko stated: “It is important to show that Japan is cooperating in responding to China, which is the issue of utmost interest to the U.S.”

 

Seko indicated that Japan intends to give consideration to the U.S.’s position in trade issues with China in its effort to avert trade friction.

 

However, while slapping punitive tariffs on China, President Donald Trump has also imposed import restrictions on steel products and taken other trade measures against Japan and other U.S. allies in his drive to reduce trade deficits. He has even indicated the possibility of imposing import restrictions on autos to press Japan and Europe, which are the U.S.’s allies in dealing with China, to make concessions in trade negotiations.

 

Japan is expected to effectuate the TPP 11 agreement without the U.S. and the Japan-EU EPA next year. It is also working toward reaching an agreement in the East Asian Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) talks within this year. All these economic frameworks that will put U.S. products at a disadvantage because the U.S. is not a member are meant to put pressure on the Trump administration. (Abridged)

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