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U.S., Japan to continue discussions on auto tariffs even after signing trade deal

Yomiuri front-paged the outline of the “rough” U.S.-Japan trade agreement endorsed on Sunday by President Trump and Prime Minister Abe, highlighting Japan’s plan to continue consultations with the USG on its demand for the removal of 2.5% U.S. import tariffs on Japanese passenger cars even after the two leaders ink the deal officially next month. The paper wrote that since the President effectively promised last September that he would not impose additional duties on Japanese products during the trade negotiations, Tokyo is reportedly hoping to head off such tariffs by continuing discussions.

Yomiuri also predicted in a separate piece that the GOJ probably will not make public the specifics of the trade deal worked out by USTR Lighthizer and Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Motegi until the last minute on the grounds that much more administrative work is needed to finalize the “rough” agreement. The daily conjectured that the GOJ may still be uncertain about the prospects for the trade deal because President Trump noted even after his summit with Abe in France that although he is not currently looking to impose new tariffs on Japanese autos, it is something he might do at a later date. The daily said Abe will try to obtain a personal commitment from the President’s not to raise duties on Japanese autos at their summit in New York in September where they plan to sign a formal trade agreement.   

Asahi and Mainichi also focused on the President’s saying he might impose auto tariffs on Japanese vehicles at a later date, speculating that the U.S. leader may want to keep the option open in order to extract trade concessions from Tokyo. According to Nikkei, Motegi reportedly told the press yesterday that Abe confirmed with the President during their summit on Sunday that no additional tariffs will be imposed on Japanese autos and that the matter will be properly addressed in the final stages of the bilateral trade negotiations.

In a related story, Asahi took up press remarks made yesterday by Finance Minister Aso, who stressed that the U.S.-Japan trade pact does not include a currency provision.

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