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Japan, U.S. trade chiefs meet as Sept. target for deal looms

  • August 22, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 05:09 a.m.
  • English Press

WASHINGTON – Japan and the United States began ministerial talks on Wednesday to advance negotiations for a bilateral trade deal, with President Donald Trump strongly hoping for an early agreement.


The meeting in Washington is between Japanese economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. It is scheduled for two days, but may be extended for another day, according to Japanese officials.


With the two countries hoping to reach a broad agreement by the end of September, the focus of the latest round of talks is whether they can iron out differences in views over tariffs on key sectors such as beef and automobiles.


The Trump administration is seeking a deal 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 autos and auto parts.


In a meeting in September last year, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed the United States would not demand deeper farm tariff cuts than levels Japan has agreed to elsewhere, such as in the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, an 11-nation deal that entered into force the same year.


Under the revised TPP, formally known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, Japan’s 38.5 percent tariff on beef imports will be lowered in stages to 9 percent over 16 years.


The latest ministerial meeting is being held just days ahead of the Group of Seven summit in France. Abe and Trump are likely to meet on the sidelines of the summit, with bilateral trade issues expected to be on the agenda.


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

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