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No rush to cut agriculture tariffs in Japan-U.S. trade talks: Motegi

TOKYO — Japan’s top trade negotiator said Tuesday there are no plans to cut tariffs on U.S. farm products ahead of a wider bilateral trade deal.


“As a rule in trade negotiations, there won’t be an agreement in any particular category before the others,” Toshimitsu Motegi, minister for economic and fiscal policy, told reporters.


He made the remark in reference to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s comments last week seeking to prioritize an agreement on farm products to improve the competitiveness of U.S. produce against that of Pacific trade pact members who export to Japan at lower tariff rates.


The United States is no longer part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership whose members include major agricultural producers such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.


Tokyo and Washington began trade negotiations in mid-April as part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s push to reduce his country’s large trade deficit and increase jobs.


Motegi and his counterpart in the talks, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, have agreed to include agriculture and industrial goods as well as digital trade such as e-commerce and music streaming services, a point Motegi said the two recently reaffirmed.


While Japan remains wary of granting the United States greater access to its agriculture market without securing lower tariffs for one of its main exports, automobiles, Trump has expressed hope that a deal on farm products will be reached before he visits May 25-28 to meet with new Emperor Naruhito.

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