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Japan, U.S. “on same wavelength” in trade talks: Japan official

WASHINGTON — A Japanese official on Wednesday signaled positive developments in negotiations with the United States for a bilateral trade deal following working-level talks, saying the two sides are “on the same wavelength.”


“My personal impression is that we have become quite able to argue on the same wavelength,” senior trade official Kazuhisa Shibuya told reporters after a two-day meeting in Washington that apparently focused on tariff cuts in agricultural and industrial products.


Following the talks, the next round of ministerial negotiations will be held on Aug. 21 and 22 in Washington between Japan’s economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Motegi said Thursday in Tokyo.


Tokyo and Washington are expected to accelerate discussions as the two governments aim to reach a broad trade agreement by the end of September.


Shibuya told reporters that the two countries are seeking to forge a “win-win deal” that will benefit both sides.


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump may also meet on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in France in late August.


The Trump administration is seeking a deal to fix what the president sees as imbalanced trade and to reduce the hefty U.S. trade deficit with Japan, demanding greater market access for American beef, pork, wheat and dairy products.


Japan aims to eliminate U.S. tariffs on auto and auto parts. Tokyo has been wary that it could be forced to make larger concessions on farm and industrial products than it has done in existing free trade agreements with other nations.


A key issue is whether the two countries will be able to reach a broad agreement in September, when another meeting between Abe and Trump may be arranged on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.


Trump appears eager to claim a major trade victory to boost his 2020 re-election bid.

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