WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Friday that his administration could reach a trade deal with Japan as soon as next month to address their major differences on agriculture and autos. “We have a very big trade negotiation going on right now with Japan, which is, I would imagine, the primary reason that the Prime Minister is here,” Trump said during a meeting with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House, reports Xinhua.
“I think it can go fairly quickly. Maybe by the time I’m over there. Maybe we sign it over there,” Trump said of the time frame of the trade deal, as he will visit Japan as a state guest in late May.“But it’s moving along very nicely, and we’ll see what happens,” said the president, noting that his primary goal of the trade talks was to gain more access to Japanese agricultural markets.
“We’ll be discussing very strongly agriculture, because, as the prime minister knows, Japan puts very massive tariffs on our agriculture,” Trump said. “We want to get rid of those tariffs.”
The United States also seeks to sell more American cars in Japan, while Japan wants to avoid damaging tariffs on autos that Trump has threatened to impose.
Trump has a deadline of May 18 to decide whether to levy threatened tariffs of as much as 25 percent on foreign cars, after the U.S. Commerce Department in February submitted a report to the White House regarding the national security investigations into imported autos and auto parts.
During the meeting with Trump, Abe said Japan has put no tariffs on American autos while “the United States has put on the 2.5 percent tariff on the Japanese autos.”
“In any case, we would like to proceed with the further negotiation that … we’ll see a mutually beneficial outcome for both of our countries,” Abe said through a translator.“Ultimately, we have a chance to make a very good and long-term trade deal with Japan,” Trump said.
The Trump-Abe meeting came after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi held their first round of negotiations on the United States-Japan Trade Agreement in Washington last week.