Tokyo, May 14 (Jiji Press) — The United States aims to conclude a bilateral trade deal with Japan at an early date, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has suggested.
“What I’m saying is that we cannot continue to kick this trade can down the road forever,” Perdue said in a recent interview with media organizations including Jiji Press.
“Nothing has happened” in the Japan-U.S. bilateral economic dialogue between Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence since its launch in spring 2017, Perdue noted.
He indicated that the U.S. side will seek a deal to liberalize Japanese agricultural and other markets as much as under the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, from which the United States has withdrawn.
He expressed concern that U.S. farmers “will be treated unfairly” following the effectuation of the TPP and the Japan-European Union economic partnership agreement.
U.S. President Donald Trump “is really looking forward to a deal sooner rather than later,” Perdue said.
He pointed to the need for both Japan and the United States to obtain parliamentary approval in order to bring a bilateral trade pact into force.
Perdue signaled U.S. readiness to pay attention in trade talks to the House of Councillors election this summer in Japan and stop short of pressing Japan to make major concessions for a trade deal by the summer that would invite criticism from Japanese agricultural groups and lawmakers representing farmers’ interests.
“We understand, and we’re very much aware” of the Upper House election and “we’re going to be respectful of that,” he said.
He declined to make a clear answer to a question about the scale of tariff reductions or elimination for U.S. agricultural products. “I’m not the trade negotiator,” he said.
Perdue said, “We would love for our trade relationship to reflect the same level of equity in the economic security as value as national security.”
He was apparently calling on Japan, as a key U.S. ally, to give due consideration to the United States in trade talks in view of the situation over North Korea and China’s assertiveness in the international community.
Perdue visited Japan to attend a meeting of agriculture ministers of the Group of 20 major advanced and developing economies, held for two days through Sunday in the central Japan city of Niigata.