Japan & United States trade talks conclude focus on agriculture

The bilateral trade talks between the US and Japan concluded Tuesday in Washington with a focus on the sensitive subject of agriculture, as US negotiators say they want a more open Japanese market.

“The United States and Japan discussed trade issues involving goods, including agriculture, as well as the need to establish high standards in the area of digital trade,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

The US delegation also mentioned its “very large” $67.6 billion trade deficit with Japan last year. Lighthizer’s statement said he and Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi agreed that the two countries will meet again in the “near future” as part of the ongoing trade talks.

President Donald Trump has said he wants Tokyo to further open its market to US products, especially in the agricultural sector, though the Japanese have so far appeared reluctant.

Trump has denounced unfair or imbalanced trade practices with several other close trading partners, including China and the European Union, in addition to Japan.

The two countries spent more than $280 billion in trade with each other in 2017, according to the US Trade Representative office.

The Japanese minister had indicated Friday that the first priority in the talks should be to decide which areas were up for negotiation.

For Japan, auto-sector tariffs, which Trump has said he is willing to impose, remain a major concern. In return for opening Japan’s agricultural market, Tokyo could ask Washington to remove customs duties on Japanese industrial goods.