US and Japanese trade negotiators begin technical discussions on industry and agriculture

US and Japanese trade negotiators begin technical discussions on industry and agriculture

Beginning today, the United States and Japan will hold working-level talks in Washington to discuss technical aspects of industrial and

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Photo: Reuters

Beginning today, the United States and Japan will hold working-level talks in Washington to discuss technical aspects of industrial and agricultural trade.

The Trump administration has sought to reduce its trade deficit with Japan by gaining more access to the country’s markets for American farmers and automakers. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe wants to avoid tariffs against Japan’s lucrative auto industry and prevent the country’s lacklustre economy from falling into recession.

According to US and Japanese officials, the two countries have so far agreed to a broad framework for a potential deal, but it is unlikely that the specific details of such a deal will be hammered out until after Japanese elections slated for July.

As Mr Trump has demonstrated with China and Mexico, he sees the threat of tariffs as a leveraging tool when it comes to international negotiations. Given that it is in the interest of both parties to come to some sort of agreement, it is unlikely that the US president’s threat of tariffs will be carried through this time. Rather, it is likely that both sides will eventually produce a free trade agreement that gives American farmers and automakers greater access to Japanese markets.

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