politics

Japan resists U.S. pressure on FX in trade talks ahead of Abe-Trump summit

15 Comments
By David Lawder and Tetsushi Kajimoto

Japan is resisting increasing U.S. pressure to link trade with currency issues as leaders of the two close allies are set to hold a summit in Washington on Friday, with trade and North Korea high on the agenda.

Japanese ministers discussed trade and currency issues with their U.S. counterparts in Washington ahead of the summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump, in a last-minute bid to keep Washington from linking the issues.

Trump has made clear he is unhappy with Japan's trade surplus with the United States - much of it from auto exports - and wants a two-way deal to fix it.

Trump and Abe agreed last September to start trade talks in an arrangement that protects Japanese automakers from further tariffs while negotiations are going on.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had said that in future trade deals, including one with Japan, the United States would like to include a provision to deter forex manipulation.

Japan has resisted the idea, out of fear that it could tie its hands in monetary policy and any future attempts to keep an unwelcome yen spike in check.

"I told him that Japan cannot agree to any debate linking trade policy with monetary policy," Aso told reporters after a bilateral meeting with Mnuchin.

"Japan won't discuss exchange-rate matters in the context of trade talks."

Aso declined to comment when asked whether, in his meeting with Mnuchin, the U.S. side had made demands to include a currency provision in trade deals between the two countries.

Currencies are a touchy issue for Japan because it has been criticized for keeping the yen low with massive monetary easing.

Bank of Japan's Executive Director Eiji Maeda told parliament on Friday that its ultra-easy monetary policy was aimed at achieving its 2 percent inflation target, not at gaining export advantage by weakening its currency.

AUTOS, AGRICULTURE

Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi held a separate meeting to discuss trade with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington.

Motegi was quoted as telling reporters that he did not expect a big difference of opinions between Abe and Trump in their upcoming talks.

Japanese media cited Motegi as saying that immediate results were not in the offing, indicating difficulty in striking a deal on contentious issues such as U.S. auto tariffs and Japan's highly protected agriculture sector, including rice and beef.

Some analysts say trade looms large, especially as Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party faces upper house elections this summer, in which the LDP needs to appeal to farmers, who form its a main support base.

While Abe wants to avoid any outward signs of discord, the trade talks offer some opportunity for tension, they say.

"A really bad outcome on the trade side would be if the president not only doesn't agree to opening auto parts, tariffs, but demands voluntary export restraints of autos from Japan," said Michael Green, a Japan expert and former White House official, now at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies.

U.S. ambassador to Japan William Hagerty, speaking at the Hudson Institute, voiced hope that the trade talks will be taken care of "quickly."

"We have had a long and persistent trade deficit with Japan. The Japanese market is not as open as our market is. So that is what the president is hoping to accomplish," he said.

"And I think the Japanese economy will be better off and that the U.S. economy will be better off too."

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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I told him that Japan cannot agree to any debate linking trade policy with monetary policy," Aso told reporters

Idiot. Of course they are linked.

Tokyo has argued that its policy easing is aimed at achieving its 2 percent inflation target, not at gaining export advantage by weakening its currency.

BS. That's EXACTLY what they are trying to do: gain export advantage. QE doesn't work because the weakening of the yen makes the price of commodities more expensive further weakening purchasing power and decreases spending. When that happens, the prices of commodities have to go down as the demand goes down due to diminished purchasing power and then deflation sets in again. This has been tried and tried to death and it simply just doesnt work. In addition to that, a declining population makes inflation even more difficult.

Those on the top, however, laugh all the way to the bank. The prices domestically go down AND the weakening of the yen means that they can sell more abroad increasing their profit margin.

There are other ways to reach the 2% inflation target. The BEST way is to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. That would increase purchasing power to all people and get them to spend. But of course, THAT means that the companies and their CEOs have to pay real wages and not slave wages which is not what Nippon Kaigi, the LDP and the rest of Japan inc want.

-12 ( +7 / -19 )

Its all a black smoke scheme. Deceivers at best. They could care less what happens to all us commoners. All players of deep pockets with short arms.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Aly you are spot on, articulated better than I could have. Want inflation? raise the minimum wage at least! Or as Aso "The Finance" minister prefers give big companies a tax break and recommend "Premium" cup noodles to those actually working. And then complain workers are not spending money? Can't spend what you don't have, an idea these wealthy silver spooned just can't fathom.

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

Monetory policy's not linked to trade? So how does that work? Just a minute my fedora hat wants to tell me something.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

Oh touched an élite there.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

Oh touched an élite there.

I guess so brother! Thanks for your support, as usual

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

any currency agreement should be agreed to by all G8 countries including the US, if any country breaks the agrrement all bets are off. America basically screwed Japan with the plaza accord of the 80s they should never agree on anything remotely similar unless the US is subjest tgo the exact same conditions.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Japan isn't going to get conned again.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Yeah right, have we forgotten the Plaza Accords already?

This time it's with Trump at the helm. Only a truly foolish dupe would support Trump's demands here

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Trump is a good president.  Maybe he is being forced by his bosses, Wall Street.

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

In 2018 Japan imported 74,966.7 million dollars from the US and exported 142,596.2 million dollars to the US. But also keep in mind that Japan has less than half the population than the US, in fact per capita the Japanese consumer consumed about $591 USD of American products, but per capita Americans only consumed $435 of Japanese products. How exactly is the trade policy "unfair" when it in aggregate benefits the United States? More economic idiocy from this administration, not exactly surprising.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Japan, find other trade partners and tell the US to go to hell. The US want total global economic control, total monopoly. Its time the nations of the world told the US that it is PART of the globe not its master.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

keeping the yen low

Compared to 2004 when i was in Japan, the yen has NOT dropped.

I got 186 Yen to the £ sterling (about 298 Yen to the $us)

Now it is about 143 Yen to the £ sterling

It costs more now to buy Japanese stuff than back then.

If I was to buy the same stuff now as back then it would cost me about 25 % more.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Currencies are a touchy issue for Japan because it has been criticized for keeping the yen low with massive monetary easing.

 

"I told him that Japan cannot agree to any debate linking trade policy with monetary policy,"

 

That’s fair comment. US is basically complaining about BOJ’s ultra easing policy. Central Bank must be independent from government, how come it needs to be bothered by other country’s government.

 

 

Tokyo has argued that its policy easing is aimed at achieving its 2 percent inflation target, not at gaining export advantage by weakening its currency.

BS. That's EXACTLY what they are trying to do: gain export advantage.

 

Wow Really?, if it is really exactly what they are trying to do, do they need to keep purchasing Japanese stock through ETF and J-REIT on their own balance sheet? If US didn’t like it, how come US government doesn’t force FED to keep zero to minus interest ?

What does US want really?  Make your own super automobile outweighing Japanese cars! Control BOJ policy or wanna fix exchange rate again?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I use iphone, ipad, Dell, HP, Dyson, BoSE, P&G , my kitchen mostly filled with made-in-Germany, I only buy American and Aussie Beef, American vegetable and fruits. I subscribe Netflix. Looking around in my house, I am not really using made-in-Japan products here in Japan. So what else should I do as a person?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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