U.S., Japan postpone trade talks to Tuesday

27 Septembre, 2018, 15:22 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • U.S., Japan postpone trade talks to Tuesday

"And Japan is very smart - great negotiators - and up until now they've done very well, and they'll continue to do very well".

It's a significant shift by Tokyo which has been a strong advocate of a multi-nation trans-Pacific trade pact that President Donald Trump withdrew from soon after taking office.

Japanese media have said Japan is considering a bilateral agreement that would lower tariffs on US agriculture imports in exchange for avoiding higher tariffs on Japanese autos.

"We've agreed today to start trade negotiations between the United States and Japan", Trump said at a summit with Abe in NY, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session.

Abe has cultivated close ties with Trump since after his 2016 election but trade relations have been hard, since the Republican president withdrew from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, that had been negotiated by the Obama administration and championed by Abe despite considerable domestic political opposition in Japan.

Trump earlier raised concerns about the trade deficit with Japan and demanded a bilateral agreement to address the situation. Imposing higher tariffs on auto imports that would have escalated trade tensions significantly. "It's a line in the sand" from Japan, said Ted Murphy, a partner at the law firm Baker McKenzie.

Abe said the United States will hold off on threatened tariffs on Japanese autos while the negotiations are underway.

He has also imposed sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum even from allies such as the European Union and Canada, citing Section 232.

Trump this week slapped $200 billion of tariffs on China, which also has a large trade surplus with the United States, and on Wednesday he bluntly said that his onetime friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping could be over. "It can only be better for the United States.I think it's going to be better, really, for both countries".

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"This was something that for various reasons over the years Japan was unwilling to do and now they are willing to do". So we're very happy about that.

"I think it will be something very exciting", Trump said at the outset of his meeting with Abe.

The U.S. and Japan will enter negotiations for a U.S. -Japan trade agreement on goods and "other key areas including services, that can produce early achievements" at the completion of "necessary domestic procedures". "It's actually a plus", he said, pointing out that much of TPP negotiations boiled down to individual countries sorting out arrangements on goods.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer is scheduled to brief lawmakers Thursday on the administration's trade policies, including a request for negotiating authority to pursue a deal with Japan.

"The U.S. agricultural community must be breathing a sigh of relief, particularly in light of the hardships farmers are experiencing with the China tariffs", Wendy Cutler, who negotiated the Pacific trade deal for the Obama administration, said via email.

Lighthizer, without providing specifics, said there would be "an very bad lot of differences between what was negotiated in TPP and the kind of agreement we expect with Japan".

Abe's government said it would offer American farmers the same benefits they had won in the TPP agreement that Trump quit but no better terms, according to the joint statement.

Speaking at the press conference to wrap up his visit to New York, Abe reiterated that he is ready to meet with Kim face to face and put an end to years of mutual distrust.

Abe has made it a priority to settle the issue of the abductions by North Korea of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

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