Japan Today | 25 July 2019
Japan, US start working-level talks for bilateral trade pact
Officials from Japan and the United States started a three-day meeting Wednesday in Washington to discuss a bilateral trade agreement, focusing on tariff cuts in agricultural and industrial products.
With U.S. President Donald Trump pushing for a deal soon after Japan’s House of Councillors election held Sunday, the two governments aim to make tangible progress on tariff cuts in industrial products, which invite less confrontation than the farm sector, according to sources familiar with the talks.
On Wednesday, the two sides focused on tariff cuts on industrial goods, with Japan represented by officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Finance Ministry.
On Thursday, they plan to discuss tariff reductions on agricultural products, the sources said.
Based on results of working-level talks, Japanese economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are expected to hold closing negotiations as soon as early August.
A key issue is whether Tokyo and Washington will reach a win-win agreement in what is perceived to be a White House goalpost for September. Trump appears eager to claim a major trade victory in a boost to his 2020 re-election bid.
In ministerial talks in late June, the two governments agreed to speed up working-level talks looking into tariff cuts in a wide range of products.
But sensitive areas such as beef and pork for Japan and automobiles and auto parts for the United States are handled by Motegi and Lighthizer.