U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty speaks during the Wall Street Journal CEO Conference in Tokyo on Tuesday. Photo: REUTERS/Toru Hanai
politics

U.S., Japan to move rapidly on trade deal: Hagerty

21 Comments
By Leika Kihara

The United States and Japan will "move rapidly" to get a trade deal under a new framework aimed at intensifying bilateral trade consultations, U.S. ambassador William Hagerty said Tuesday, keeping pressure on Tokyo to open up protected markets like agriculture.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed last month to set up the new framework focusing on bilateral trade led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

"Trade is very important to us. I think we're going to move rapidly toward getting something done on trade," Hagerty said at a conference in Tokyo, adding that USTR staff had visited Japan "just this past week" to iron out details.

"The president is, as you know, a man of action and expects us to get results quickly. I think Mr Abe understands that," he said.

Analysts say the new framework led by Lighthizer and Motegi could put Japan under direct U.S. pressure to enter talks for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).

Japan is wary of entering such talks and wants to convince Washington to rejoin the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact.

Hagerty said Japan's focus on TPP would not conflict with Washington's desire to have a trade agreement with Tokyo, stressing that the United States already has FTAs with six TPP members.

"Those six countries consist more than half of world trade today. There's only one country to push that to over 90 percent and that's Japan," he said.

Motegi said last month Japan won't sign a bilateral FTA with the United States, and that talks under the new framework won't begin until mid-June at the earliest.

Japan and the United States remain at loggerheads over how to frame trade talks. Japan is opposed to a two-way trade deal for fear of coming under pressure to open up politically sensitive markets like agriculture.

But U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has maintained pressure on Japan, saying Washington wants a bilateral FTA.

Trump pulled the United States out of TPP in early 2017 and has said he won't consider rejoining unless conditions provided under the pact were far better than before.

Since the United States withdrew from TPP, the other 11 nations have forged ahead with their own agreement. Japan, which signed up for the pact, wants to pass relevant legislation through parliament in the current session running until June 20.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
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The President is a "man of action"? The only "action" the President knows is bullying everyone. None of these people have a clue about how to do something about US competitiveness. And remember, there are very successful US companies operating here in Japan. They have done their homework and know how to compete. Don't ruin everything for them.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

PS It also looks like he has mastered Trump's finger movements.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

As much as I am not a fan of Trump, Hagerty is a pretty savy guy and has relevant experience.

Will be interested in to see what comes of this.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

"Japan is wary of entering such talks..."

Of course they are. They know full well they can't keep all their protectionist measures in place.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Abe is selling us out again.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Excellent

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Japan is too scared to do anything. Just leave it to Americans to do the right things.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

"Of course they are. They know full well they can't keep all their protectionist measures in place."

... and America doesn't engage in protectionism? In the last 10 years America has bailed out:

1) Its banks

2) Its investment banks.

3) Its insurance companies

4) It auto companies. Moreover

The US federal government spends more than $20 billion a year on subsidies for farm businesses. About 39 percent of the nation's 2.1 million farms receive subsidies, with the lion's share of the handouts going to the largest producers of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and rice.

American governments spend $38 billion each year to subsidize meat and dairy,

and......

US lead the way on protectionism in 2017

No less than 467 protectionist measures were implemented worldwide in 2017, with the US responsible for 90 of them.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

The only things moving rapidly in Japan are obasans trying to get a seat on the train and shinkansens.No way will these talks open up Japan's closed doors that quickly. You can't really bum rush Japan on this issue.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Anything good quality from USA cheaper will be no problem, but Abe with TPP trades of tax-exemptions with all TPP members and FTA with America of "Trumpland first" of high taxes to be exported there? Give me a break, I'm living in Japan, not in USA!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What is Abe waiting for ? Just sign the deal and move on.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

In my humble view Japan has every reason to be cautious. Trump's approach on all his policies is to jam it through as fast as possible, talk a big game...just don't look at the details. A high risk that Trump wants to push through a "bilateral" deal that has more unilateral benefit for the US.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Before Pearl Harbor, US stopped food supply to Japan.  (But during the war, US secretly sold food to Japan thru another country to extend the war)

US is unreliable country for food.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I believed in Abe thinking that he would be a prime minister Pro Japan but he is a huge globalist pushing mass immigration. Japan is screwed !

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

American agricultural products is pure poison !

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Japan needs the cover of other countries to protect their agricultural industry from open competition.

The US federal government spends more than $20 billion a year on subsidies for farm businesses. 

Japan’s agriculture is also heavily subsidized.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Japan should just sit tight and wait for 2 and half year; Mr T will be gone.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japan has many hidden trade barriers that must be removed. These hidden trade barriers are more detrimental to free trade than the taxes themselves.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japan should just sit tight and wait for 2 and half year; Mr T will be gone.

Such confidence. Do we remember what happened last time?

My advice - Joe Biden. Best hope you have.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You are talking to the ambassador

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan has many hidden trade barriers that must be removed. These hidden trade barriers are more detrimental to free trade than the taxes themselves.

Such as?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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