NEW YORK — Japan and the United States will hold a ceremony Wednesday to be attended by their leaders, Japan’s top negotiator Toshimitsu Motegi said, dismissing speculation their plans to reach a trade deal had hit a last-minute hitch.
“Today, our negotiations completely finished. We’re going to have a good ceremony the day after tomorrow when the leaders meet,” the Japanese foreign minister told reporters after meeting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in New York on Monday.
Both governments have been making arrangements for the signing of a document outlining 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.
According to Japanese government sources, it has taken more time than expected to finalize the wording of the pact. Legality checks on the text will be completed after the signing, and the accord could come into force, they said.
Motegi also told reporters Monday there is “no need to worry” that Washington might impose tariffs higher than existing rates on Japanese automobiles for security reasons, indicating the two leaders will confirm that in writing during the upcoming summit.
In late August, Abe and Trump agreed in principle on core elements of a deal that covers farm and industrial products, and digital trade.
Under the envisaged deal, Japan would cut tariffs on U.S. farm produce such as beef and pork, setting them on par with the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact that began 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.
The two sides are not expected to include a provision against currency devaluation, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations.
Tokyo 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.