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U.S. farm sec. sees huge deficit with Japan as problem

Niigata, May 11 (Jiji Press) — Visiting U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Saturday expressed a view that his country’s huge trade deficit with Japan should be a focus of ongoing bilateral trade negotiations.

“We have had a long and sustained trade deficit with Japan to the tune of 70 billion dollars,” meaning that the United States has been a “very good” customer of Japan for many years, Perdue told some media organizations including Jiji Press.

The problem should be “recognized” in the bilateral trade negotiations launched last month, Perdue continued. He was in the central Japan city of Niigata to attend a two-day meeting of the Group of 20 agriculture ministers from the day.

He also expressed confidence that the two countries will be able to “come together and conclude these negotiations in a…mutually beneficial way.”

The trade issue is expected to be discussed at a planned bilateral summit during U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan late this month.

Perdue said the good personal relationship between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will help achieve economic outcomes that are “mutually beneficial for both Japan and the United States.”

The competitiveness of U.S. farm products has declined in the Japanese market due partly to the effectuation of the 11-country Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact without the United States in December last year.

Perdue has requested that Japan scrap or cut tariffs on farm imports from the United States more than it promised to do under the TPP deal.

But he now declined to comment on the matter, saying he is not in the bilateral trade negotiations.

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