TOKYO — Japanese government ministers and business leaders on Thursday hailed the newly reached bilateral trade agreement with the United States that will cut tariffs on industrial and farm products.
The deal “has great significance as it ruled out protectionist steps that could distort global supply chains,” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Isshu Sugawara told reporters.
Under the agreement, reached between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump on Wednesday in New York, Japan secured an assurance that it will remain exempt from higher U.S. auto tariffs.
“It will contribute to the stable development of Japan-U.S. trade, centering on the auto industry,” Sugawara said.
The two countries will continue negotiations to eliminate U.S. tariffs on Japanese cars and auto parts.
Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp. who heads the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, also welcomed the pact.
“The environment for free and fair trade in the auto sector will be maintained and reinforced,” Toyoda told a meeting of the industry body, which was attended by Sugawara.
“Every (Japanese) automaker continues to make efforts to be the best auto manufacturer in every country,” Toyoda also said at a press conference later in the day.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Taku Eto said he hopes the trade deal will help increase Japanese beef exports to the United States as it expanded the low-tariff quota for Japanese beef.
In a reprieve for Japanese rice farmers in what is a politically sensitive area, the agreement did not include a tariff-free quota for American rice that would cause an influx of cheaper products.
“Now producers can feel safe,” said Toru Nakaya, president of the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives.