Asahi speculated on Saturday that the new trade talks between the U.S. and Japan might not start in late January as originally envisaged due in part to the government shutdown. The paper reported that according to one estimate, as many as 70% of USTR officials are on furlough. The daily expressed the view that the Trump administration’s focus on sealing a trade deal with China by March 1 could also delay the launch of what the Japanese side refers to as “TAG” talks. According to the paper, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Grassley told the Wall Street Journal that trade talks with Japan and Europe will probably be postponed.
The daily claimed that the Japanese side is not eager to commence the trade talks with the Trump administration anytime soon, with a GOJ source projecting that the talks might not start until March or April because the GOJ will be busy with parliamentary deliberations on the annual budget in February and March for enactment by March 31.
In a related story, today’s Mainichi reported on a view expressed by President Volpe of the Automotive Parts Manufacturer’s Association of Canada, who projected that in upcoming trade talks, the Trump administration will demand that Japan adopt a provision on quantitative restrictions on auto exports to the U.S. market like the one that was included last November in the USMCA trade deal that will supersede NAFTA. The Canadian businessman stressed that as the Trump administration has “altered the landscape” of trade negotiation, he has no doubt that Washington would like to compel Japan to accept an auto deal similar to the one in the new NAFTA.