President Donald Trump watches as Japanese Ambassador to the United States Shinsuke Sugiyama, left, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sign a trade agreement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Monday. Photo: AP/Evan Vucci
politics

U.S., Japan sign limited deal on agriculture, digital trade

39 Comments
By PAUL WISEMAN

The United States and Japan signed a limited trade agreement Monday, a deal that would win back benefits American farmers lost when President Donald Trump pulled out of a broader Asia-Pacific pact his first week in office.

U.S. farmers have been operating at a disadvantage in Japan since Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which had been negotiated by the Obama administration. The other 11 Pacific Rim countries, including big farm producers such as New Zealand and Canada, went ahead without the United States and were enjoying preferential treatment in Japan.

"This is a huge victory for America's farmers, ranchers and growers. And that's very important to me," Trump said in a signing ceremony at the White House.

But Tami Overby, senior director on Asia and trade issues at the McLarty Associates consultancy, said America's competitors in agriculture got a two-year head start and used it to sign multi-year contracts in Japan to sell farm products. "We're going to have to thrash back and fight for lost market share," she said.

The deal comes at a time when other parts of the Trump administration's trade agenda have stalled. The United States has been locked in a costly trade war with China for more than a year — though negotiators are scheduled to resume talks in Washington Thursday. Congress has yet to approve a North American trade deal Trump's trade team negotiated last year with Canada and Mexico.

While rewarding American farmers, the new U.S.-Japan mini-deal does not resolve differences over trade in autos. Trump has said the two countries continue to work on a more comprehensive agreement.

Trump has threatened to impose import taxes on foreign autos, claiming they pose a threat to U.S. national security. At the UN general assembly, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that Trump had assured him that a previous agreement to spare Japan from new auto tariffs still stood.

But Japanese automakers were disappointed that the United States kept existing auto tariffs at 2.5%.

The limited trade pact also includes market-opening commitments on $40 billion worth of digital trade between the two countries.

Monday's Japan deal, Overby said, "is important, but it's still not the whole enchilada." U.S. business groups are holding out for a broader deal that would give American companies more access to Japan in businesses such as insurance and pharmaceuticals.

Trump has long complained about America's large trade deficit with Japan, which came to $58 billion last year. Japan is the world's third-biggest economy behind the United States and China.

News of a U.S. pact with Japan might sound familiar. The deal was first announced at the August Group of 7 summit in Biarritz, France. At the UN gathering last month, the two countries signed an agreement-in-principle.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


39 Comments
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Well, I for one am going to "wait and see" how this affects me at the supermarket!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Let's be accurate about this "win" for Donny. He literally created the problem his first week in office and has just now brought us back to par. This is the definition of a hollow victory.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

Oh and Trump needs to learn that trade deals are not meant to be a "victory" they SHOULD be balanced so both sides can equally benefit.

Sadly he'd never do it, but if I were the Ambassador I think I would have been tempted to throw the damn agreement in Trump's face after he made this statement.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The US is not a free trade angel by any means. The US imposes a 50% tariff on Japanese pickup trucks, 50% on leather goods. Japanese automakers employ about 1.4 million Americans and they export more autos than they import from Japan.

So, Japanese car makers are net exporters and one of the highlights of American exports.

All of the American "farmers, ranchers and growers..." are also getting government subsidies, no different than Japanese farmers.

This deal does nothing for Japan that I can see. It makes me wonder what Trump hung over Japan's head for them to agree to it.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This deal does nothing for Japan that I can see.

Well, maybe some things you are not suppose to see.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Take five steps backwards within three days... then limp four steps forward over the course of three years and call it ‘phenomenal’. Accomplishing 80% of TPP in three years of negotiations is the new ‘winning’ in America. Congrats!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

What's with the ridiculous cowboy hats?!

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Well, I for one am going to "wait and see" how this affects me at the supermarket!

same

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Big win, congratulations.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

@NB--those spotless cowboy hats and business suits must be hog farmer chic.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Looking forward to cheaper food prices!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

“The first deal scraps Japanese tariffs on nuts, berries, grains, wine, cheese and other products amounting to roughly $4.3 billion, and reduces tariffs on beef and pork products amounting to $2.9 billion. Current tariffs would remain on another roughly $1.7 billion of agricultural exports.

The second deal focuses on digital products, such as digital media and software, which will face reduced trade barriers and tariffs. Digital trade between the two countries already amounts to $40 billion.”

55 billion dollar deal

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

According to Kyodo, 'the United States will maintain its current 2.5 percent tariff on U.S.-bound Japanese vehicles and auto parts'.

'But Japan is viewed as having made more concessions than the United States amid the U.S. threat of higher tariffs on Japanese auto imports, a critical issue for the export-reliant economy. Under the latest deal, the United States will keep its current tariffs on automobiles and auto parts from Japan.'

'The country will eliminate tariffs on $1.3 billion of U.S. agriculture products, including almonds, blueberries, sweet corn and sorghum, it said. It will also eliminate duties on commodities like ethanol, cheese and whey, frozen poultry and oranges'.

Tariffs on these products will be eliminated:

Almonds

Blueberries

Cranberries

Walnuts

Sweet corn

Broccoli

Prunes

Tariffs on sweet cherries and oranges will be lowered in phases.

Japan will provide a “staged tariff elimination” on imports of U.S. cheeses, processed pork, poultry, beef offal, ethanol, wine, frozen potatoes, oranges, fresh cherries, egg products and tomato paste, the fact sheet said

It sounds like a good deal for the U.S and Japanese consumers.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Nothing says "I'm successful" in the US quite like a man in a suit wearing a white cowboy hat

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japan is paying for the trade war with China.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

And all I want is labels telling me EXACTLY where the contents came from. (eyeroll)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is but the FIRST part of the bi-lateral trade agreement. More to follow, naysayers.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The foods we buy are labelled.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

zichi, the food you don't buy are also labelled.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Smart people make smart deals, stupid people make stupid deals, as simple as that.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Let's see if a single yen of these savings make their way to the Japanese supermarkets.

And Trump just LOVES standing behind that Seal, doesn't he? Like sitting behind the Big Desk - makes him feel like a Big Boy.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I thought it was rude by both US Southern standards and military standards to wear a hat in the house. Who are these two people in the photo showing off for?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What's with the ridiculous cowboy hats?!

I would so love to hear you say to their faces.

And Trump just LOVES standing behind that Seal, doesn't he?

It's part of his job to stand behind that Seal, just like it was Obama's job before him and every president before him.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I would so love to hear you say to their faces.

Why would that be surprising about saying it to their face? What would any able-bodied physically fit person have to fear from two old overweight American politicians?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Nothing says "I'm successful" in the US quite like a man in a suit wearing a white cowboy hat

Hehe true, there's a bit of 'am a successful Texan cattle rancher and this is my land,got a problem with that!?' in this pic.

The only thing that could top it is said man also wearing cowboy boots and a bolo tie.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Looking at the first picture I can't stop thinking:

how much more arrogant can one look (or be).

The master of disaster is at it again.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Trump has long complained about America's large trade deficit with Japan

If you want people to buy your stuff, sell stuff that people want to buy.

That means no GMOs, no HFCS, no growth-hormone in beef, no chlorine washes for chickens, better animal welfare overall.

Nothing says "I'm successful" in the US quite like a man in a suit wearing a white cowboy hat

Bad manners for a man to wear a hat indoors.

Wearing a big hat - bad manners big time.

Shows a definite lack of couth.

This is a huge victory for America's farmers, ranchers and growers

A huge victory infers a huge defeat for the other side. Hardly the best way to punctuate important negotiations.

Invalid CSRF

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This will have no effect at the supermarket (just like the TPP--anyone notice any remarkable price reductions?). The only ones to benefit from this are the middlemen, or perhaps third-world countries to which Japan will donate the food (rice, corn) so as not to disrupt the local Japan market.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sarge:

It's part of his job to stand behind that Seal, just like it was Obama's job before him and every president before him.

That's true, but when we had a real president, they were often able to act like a grown-up without the use of props. Trump needs the shiny stuff to make himself feel important. He's a hollow, ludicrous, man of straw.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Look at the Japanese in the photo: Four smirks are worth a thousand words.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Digital trade between the two countries already amounts to $40 billion.”55 billion dollar deal.

LOL not even close, biggest American import are Iphones and theyre made in China and soon to be India, and much of Asia, very little of the Iphone is made by American workers

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is it accurate to say that Japan is basically giving the US the benefits of being in TPP without actually being in it (at least with regards to trade with Japan) in exchange for lowering of some small number of tariffs that were only fairly recently slapped on?

It smacks of bullying on the national stage.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Smart people make smart deals, stupid people make stupid deals, as simple as that.

I don't think that there is any evidence to back your folksy philosophy of international trade.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think that it is a very good deal.

Everybody gets what they want, and nobody gets what they don't want.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Trump got leverage for a better deal in digital trade by negotiating with Japan separately. Just look at the astonishing rise of Amazon. Also, this bilateral trade accord will be easier to enforce than the TPP. The TPP is not appropriate for innovation new industries that the US leads.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Akie

zichi, the food you don't buy are also labelled.

How would you know that. Have you read all the labels on all the foods in the store?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What's with the ridiculous cowboy hats?!

Whats wrong with cowboy hats?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Limited to the sucess for america only. A big disadvantage to the Japanese farmers. Which American eats rice every day ???. PLS LET ME KNOW.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The TPP is not appropriate for innovation new industries that the US leads.

yet it would seem the TPP offers a better deal for countries that want a FTA with Japan

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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