WASHINGTON/TOKYO — U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration said Monday it has notified Congress that a trade deal with Japan has been reached and will be signed in “the coming weeks.”
The United States and Japan have been stepping up work to sign the agreement later in the month, when Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are likely to meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
The two nations reached consensus in late August on key elements related to agricultural and industrial goods, along with digital trade, paving the way for the pact to be inked.
“We are accelerating efforts to finish remaining work, including the wording of the pact, with an eye to signing it on the occasion of the U.N. General Assembly,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.
While details are yet to be announced, Japan is expected to cut tariffs on U.S. farm goods such as beef, pork, wheat and dairy products to around the same levels as existing free trade frameworks.
As the United States has dangled the threat of higher tariffs on auto imports for national security reasons, the focus has been on whether Japan can win assurances from its longtime ally that it will continue to be exempted.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who has led the bilateral trade negotiations, said Tuesday that the United States is expected to pledge not to impose additional tariffs on Japanese car imports in writing.
For the United States, farm produce has been a high priority. U.S. farmers have been put at a disadvantage in the Japanese market as recent trade agreements, including the revised 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership that involves countries such as Australia and Canada, lowered Japan’s tariffs on imports from member countries.
The United States had initially been among the TPP members, but it pulled out of the pact in 2017, with Trump saying he preferred to forge bilateral trade deals. He has also pushed for any deal with Tokyo to reduce his country’s trade deficit with Japan.
Trump said in the press release issued Monday that he is pleased to report to Congress the “initial trade agreement” reached with Japan.
He also said that his administration plans to engage in “further negotiations with Japan to achieve a comprehensive trade agreement that results in more fair and reciprocal trade between the United States and Japan.”