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Lower House to clear legislation on U.S.-Japan trade agreements soon

  • November 16, 2019
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  • JMH Summary

All national dailies reported on Saturday on the passage of the GOJ-sponsored bills on the U.S.-Japan trade agreements at the Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday, projecting that the full House of Representatives is expected to approve the two pieces of legislation on Tuesday. While noting that over 11 hours were spent deliberating the legislation, Asahi claimed that the discussions were somewhat “shallow” since the Abe administration dismissed the opposition bloc’s requests for data to verify the GOJ’s claims that the U.S. is committed to ending the existing tariffs and not imposing additional ones on Japanese auto imports. The daily pointed out that even the ruling Komeito party is skeptical of the GOJ estimate on the economic benefits of the bilateral pacts on goods and data trade, but the Abe administration is determined to move forward with parliamentary deliberations at an “unusually high speed” so as to meet the U.S. request for effectuating them on Jan. 1.


In a related story, Sunday’s Asahi led with its estimate of the economic benefits of the trade agreements based on the assumption that the U.S. would not lift the existing tariff on Japanese auto imports. According to the Asahi estimate, the reduction in tariffs that Japan would pay to the U.S. as a result of the accords would only amount to $240 million, roughly 12% of the $2 billion that a GOJ estimate calculated based on the assumption that the auto tariff would be removed. Noting that the GOJ estimate showed that the corresponding figure for the U.S. would be $950 million, the daily insisted that if its estimate were to end up being accurate, Japan would be a “lopsided loser” in the bilateral trade deal. The daily speculated in a separate piece that the removal of the U.S. auto tariff is highly unlikely and neither side seems very eager to launch the second round of trade talks anytime soon. Tokyo is reportedly afraid that continuing to demand U.S. auto tariff elimination will backfire by prompting Washington to seek additional cutbacks in Japanese tariffs on U.S. agricultural imports. The paper quoted an GOJ source as saying there will be no additional trade agreements between the U.S. and Japan.

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