Japan Denies Excessive Concessions in Trade Talks With U.S.

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Japan’s top government spokesperson denied on Monday that Tokyo had made too many concessions in trade talks with the United States, adding that the fact that both countries were able to meet a broad agreement was “very valuable”.

Japan and the United States have agreed in principle on Sunday to core elements of a trade deal hoped to be signed in New York next month by U.S. President Donald Trump and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The agreement, if finalized, would help mitigate the trade dispute between the two allies, although some Japanese commentators expressed that Japan “gave up too much” from its end.

“Negotiations are still underway so I’d like to refrain from commenting.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters at a news conference in Tokyo when asked if the United States had agreed not to impose additional tariffs on Japanese automobiles.

“But I believe that won’t be the case,” he added, as the 2 leaders confirmed that Washington would not impose higher tariffs on auto and auto parts while undergoing trade talks.

“Japan and the U.S. have negotiated based on the joint statement last September. And related ministers agreed based on that, so it was very valuable,” Suga said.

U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer said at the G7 summit that the deal, which included agriculture, trade tariffs, and digital trade would open Japanese markets to U.S. goods and lead to substantial reduction in tariffs on products such as beef.

Lighthizer also said that Japan imports around $14 Billion worth of U.S. agricultural products and added that the agreement would open up Japanese markets to over $7 billion of such products benefitting exports like beef, pork, wheat, dairy products, wine and ethanol.

The Nikkei newspaper reported on Saturday that Japan had agreed to cut its tariffs on U.S. beef and pork to the levels similarly applied to members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement championed by former U.S. President Barrack Obama. However, President Trump had pulled the United States out of the TPP.

President Trump said on Sunday that Japan had agreed to buy excess U.S. corn that has been burdening farmers due to the tariff dispute between Washington and Beijing. This, given that Prime Minister Abe added to the possible purchase that it would be handled by the private sector.

“It’s a very big transaction, and we’ve agreed on principle. It’s billions and billions of dollars. Tremendous for the farmers,” President Trump told reporters about the deal during a joint announcement with Abe at the G7 meeting in France.

Abe said that while there is still more work remaining, he is optimistic that it would be finished before the United Nations General Assembly next month.

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