The Japan News (26/08/2019) - BIARRITZ, France (Jiji Press) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday reached a basic accord on a proposed bilateral trade deal.
Tokyo and Washington aim to sign their trade agreement at the next bilateral summit to be held on the sidelines of a U.N. General Assembly session in New York in late September.
The two leaders had two rounds of bilateral talks Sunday on the margins of the three-day Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, southwestern France, that opened Saturday.
Under the accord, Japan will lower its tariffs on beef and pork imports from the United States to the same levels as promised under the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, from which Washington withdrew.
The U.S. tariff of 2.5 percent on automobile imports from Japan will not be scrapped. But U.S. tariffs on many other industrial products will be removed or lowered.
“This is a tremendous deal for the United States,” Trump said during the second round. “I just want to thank Prime Minister Abe and the Japanese people. You’ve been a fantastic friend.”
Abe said there remain issues that must be resolved at the working level.
But “the work will be accelerated toward the target of signing the deal in September,” he said. “Once the trade agreement enters into force, I’m sure there’ll be immense positive effects on both Japan and the United States.”
The basic accord followed a broad agreement reached in three-day negotiations between Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer through Friday.
On Sunday, Lighthizer, also present at the Abe-Trump talks, said the key items in the leaders’ basic accord are agricultural and industrial goods tariffs and digital trade.
Motegi said the two leaders did not discuss a possible additional tariff of 25 percent on automobile imports that the United States is considering on national security grounds.
The tariff would not be applied to Japanese automobiles, Motegi added.
Abe and Trump also discussed how to deal with North Korea, which has fired ballistic missiles repeatedly. The two confirmed the importance of three-way cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea.
But they were divided over how to evaluate the latest launches of short-range ballistic missiles, conducted Saturday.
Trump played down the launches, while Abe expressed deep regrets, saying the launches violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.
But Trump also said he can “fully” understand how Abe feels about North Korean short-range ballistic missiles. Abe, for his part, underscored his close cooperation with Trump.
The prime minister again conveyed to Trump his wish to realize a Japan-North Korea summit without preconditions.
Abe and Trump did not talk about South Korea’s decision to scrap its military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).
According to Japanese government officials, the two leaders did not discuss the situation in Iran or a U.S.-proposed international coalition to protect commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
Abe and Trump agreed that Japan will import excess corn from the United States that has arose as U.S. shipments to China are falling due to the two countries’ trade battle.
The previous Japan-U.S. summit took place in Osaka on June 28 on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in the western Japan city. Before Sunday, Abe and Trump had 12 bilateral meetings.
Besides Lighthizer, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attended the day’s bilateral talks.
Read more at https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005962587