WASHINGTON — U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expressed hope Wednesday that the United States and Japan will reach a deal on agricultural tariff cuts “in the next several weeks” as part of efforts to strike a bilateral trade agreement.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll come to an agreement in the next several weeks,” Lighthizer told a hearing at the House Ways and Means Committee. “It’s a high priority.”
He made the remarks a day after calling for prioritizing an initial deal with Japan on greater market access for American farm products.
Speaking at Wednesday’s hearing, Lighthizer said such “an early basis” plan would seek to ensure for U.S. agriculture access to the Japanese market equal to what Tokyo has given 10 other Pacific nations under a revised Trans-Pacific Partnership and European countries under a free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union.
President Donald Trump’s administration has grown concerned that the recent entry into force of the two FTAs has put American farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage in the Japanese market.
Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP in 2017, citing his preference for bilateral trade deals.
Lighthizer said Japan has “a very, very status, structured, protectionist agricultural industry.”
He added that the country’s “dairy (policy) is among the worst in agriculture in terms of protection.”