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President Trump’s comment on trade deal in August sends shockwaves through GOJ

Nikkei wrote that Japanese officials were rattled by President Trump’s remark in Tokyo on Monday that the USG “will be announcing some things probably in August” on trade. GOJ officials had been envisioning reaching a “rough agreement” on trade liberalization after the July Upper House elections and concluding an official agreement later based on the assessment that finalizing the details on import tariffs on more than 9,000 products would require meticulous administrative work and could take as long as six months. Those officials had been envisaging that a rough consensus would be forged in late September between Prime Minister Abe and the President when the premier visits New York for the UN General Assembly. 


The daily speculated that as President Trump is impatient to produce deliverables quickly in the run-up to the presidential election in 2020, he may demand a much earlier rough accord, possibly when he travels to Osaka in late June for the G20 conference. Projecting that USTR Lighthizer needs to hold trade talks with Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Motegi ahead of concluding a basic agreement, the daily speculated that a deal in Osaka is unlikely since the two sides remain apart over auto and agricultural trade and the top U.S. trade official will continue to be preoccupied with trade negotiations with China. The paper speculated that with his reelection bid in mind, the U.S. leader might once again propose high tariffs on Japanese auto imports if progress is slow in the bilateral trade talks, adding that some Japanese officials are hoping that the President will instead back down to prioritize an early deal.

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