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Japan, U.S. seek to clinch trade deal but legal work to remain

  • September 24, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 3:46 a.m.
  • English Press

NEW YORK — Japan and the United States are expected to seal a trade deal soon, with the document to be signed prior to a final round of work to check its legality, Japanese government sources said Monday.


Both governments are making arrangements for the signing of the deal when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets Wednesday with U.S. President Donald Trump on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.


But it has taken more time than expected to finalize the wording of the document, the sources said. “The content, including that of tariffs, has been determined, so in effect it is a trade pact that is going to be signed,” a Japanese government source said.


The legal work is expected to be completed by early October, according to the sources.


Japan’s top negotiator Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will try to work out the envisaged trade pact during a meeting later in the day.


In late August, Abe and Trump agreed in principle on core elements of the deal that covers farm and industrial products and digital trade. Tokyo and Washington have been aiming to set the stage for a final agreement to be reached and signed.


Under the envisaged deal, Japan would cut tariffs on farm produce such as beef and pork imported from the United States, setting them on par with the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact that entered into force in December after the abrupt U.S. pullout in 2017.


The United States, however, is seen as unlikely to reduce its existing tariffs on imported Japanese vehicles and auto parts.


Still, Japan is hoping to get assurances in writing that the United States will not impose higher tariffs on auto imports from Japan for security reasons.


The two sides are not expected to include a provision against currency devaluation, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations.


Japan has been wary of such a clause, given that bold monetary easing by the Bank of Japan in recent years has helped weaken the yen against the dollar, benefiting Japanese exporters.

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