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U.S., Japan Agree to Start Trade Talks; President Trump Reverses Stance on TPP

Thursday, April 26, 2018

(North American Meat Institute)

The U.S. and Japan agreed to start talks on a set of "free, fair and reciprocal trade deals" to promote economic development in the Indo-Pacific, following a meeting last week between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump. Abe, however, reiterated Japan's interest in the U.S. rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in contrast to President Trump's preference for a bilateral free trade agreement.

President Trump earlier this month announced he had ordered advisors to look at rejoining TPP, from which the U.S. withdrew in January 2017, but backpedaled during a press conference with Abe, stating he does not intend to re-enter the agreement. Instead, Trump indicated he prefers a bilateral agreement aimed at reducing the U.S.'s trade deficit with Japan, which totaled $69 billion in 2017. Trump also said exempting Japan from the recently implemented steel and aluminum tariffs could be part of the trade talks.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi will lead the new negotiations, reporting to Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso.

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