US, Japan kicking off trade talks
As optimism grows that the US and China are nearing a trade deal, Japan kicks off its own negotiations with Washington from today, hoping to resolve some of the issues quickly.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japan's Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi are set to embark on two days of talks in Washington.
Last week, Mr Motegi predicted the crunch talks would be candid, with the first round today about "making a decision on which areas we will discuss, chiefly in the field of goods".
"I will do my best to have thorough discussions so as to produce a good result in line with our national interest," he said.
Self-styled deal-maker Donald Trump has been playing hardball with traditional US trading partners, using tariffs and threats in an effort to boost US exports and curb Washington's longstanding trade deficit.
The US President has complained that Japan has an unfair advantage in bilateral trade.
US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said last week he was seeking a "very quick agreement" with Japan on tariff cuts for agricultural goods.
However, the US side is likely to run into opposition from Japan on this, Jiji Press reported.
"There's no way for us to conclude an agricultural deal first," a Japanese official told Jiji.
If Japan does so, it may violate World Trade Organisation rules related to free-trade agreements, the officials noted. - AFP
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