The Hill | 7 October 2019
US, Japan sign trade deals
By Niv Elis
President Trump on Monday oversaw the signing of two limited trade deals with Japan, slashing tariffs on $7.2 billion worth of America’s agricultural exports, but avoiding thorny issues such as auto tariffs.
"From Day One my administration has worked tirelessly to achieve a level playing field for the American worker," Trump said at the signing ceremony.
"It’s a great deal for us and our workers," he added.
The deals were signed by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Shinsuke J. Sugiyama in the White House.
The first deal scraps Japanese tariffs on nuts, berries, grains, wine, cheese and other products amounting to roughly $4.3 billion, and reduces tariffs on beef and pork products amounting to $2.9 billion. Current tariffs would remain on another roughly $1.7 billion of agricultural exports.
The second deal focuses on digital products, such as digital media and software, which will face reduced trade barriers and tariffs. Digital trade between the two countries already amounts to $40 billion.
The deals cover roughly $55 billion in trade, about a quarter of the nearly $218 billion in goods traded between the two countries.
The deals did not address Trump’s threatened auto tariffs, a major sticking point in the negotiations on one of the largest areas of trade between the two countries.
Trump finalized the deals with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September.
The signing ceremony comes as a Chinese delegation is due in Washington to continue trade talks in hopes of ending or ramping down a trade war that has seen tariffs imposed on hundreds of billions worth of traded goods.
Trump is scheduled to increase tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports from 25 percent to 30 percent next week.
The White House is also negotiating with House Democrats on the United States Canada Mexico Agreement, Trump’s update to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has indicated that she would be willing to move the deal forward if the sides could reach a suitable compromise on labor and environmental enforcement mechanisms and pharmaceutical issues.
The impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, she said, would not affect the trade deal’s fate.