All papers except Nikkei took up a public hearing that was sponsored by the USTR in Washington on Monday in preparation for the planned commencement of new trade talks between the U.S. and Japan in January. Participating lobbyists from the auto and agricultural industries reportedly asked the Trump administration to put strong pressure on the GOJ to enable them to export more products to Japan. Auto representatives reportedly called for a currency stipulation to rein in the yen’s depreciation and quantitative restrictions on Japanese auto imports to America. Officials from agricultural industries demanded that the USG swiftly negotiate a deal with Tokyo that is on par with or superior to the TPP 11 so that their products can compete with their foreign rivals in the Japanese market. Pointing out that in addition to goods a senior USTR official said during the session that issues involving the service industry will be taken up in the new trade talks, Sankei speculated that the Trump administration is seeking a free trade agreement that covers a wide range of areas.
Sankei also wrote that following the USTR hearing, the Abe administration has grown even more alarmed that the Trump administration may ratchet up the pressure on Tokyo in the upcoming trade talks, quoting an unnamed senior METI official as saying that the USG will probably demand quantitative restrictions on Japanese auto imports. Agriculture Minister Yoshikawa told the press yesterday that Japan will not make concessions to the U.S. beyond the scope agreed to under the TPP. The daily also conjectured that the USG may take a hard line toward Japan on autos in a bid to preempt Tokyo’s probable demand for the lowering of the 25% import tariff on light trucks.
Asahi noted that the planned trade talks between the U.S. and China may be a major factor that will affect the U.S.-Japan trade negotiations, as the Trump administration’s top priority for now will be cutting a viable deal with Beijing. The daily added that U.S. industries and Congress are attaching importance to ensuring U.S-Japan coordination on the trade front with China’s aggressive and unfair trade practices in mind.