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Trump announces US, Japan free trade deal negotiations



shinzo abe donald trump
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald

Evan Vucci/AP

  • The US and Japan announced intentions to start negotiations
    on a new free trade agreement on Wednesday.
  • The announcement came after a meeting between President
    Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
  • The joint announcement suggests that the two countries would
    not impose new tariffs on each other during the course of the
  • Trump and Abe’s deal comes against the backdrop of the
    growing trade war between the US and China.

The US and Japan announced Wednesday that the two countries plan
to negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement as part of
President Donald Trump’s bid to reshape American trade policy.

Following a meeting between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe, the US and Japan released a joint statement
announcing the start of talks.

The United States and Japan will enter into negotiations,
following the completion of necessary domestic procedures, for a
United States–Japan Trade Agreement on goods, as well as on other
key areas including services, that can produce early
achievements,” the statement said.

Robert Lighthizer, the US Trade Representative, told
reporters that the administration planned to seek fast-track
trade negotiation powers from Congress under the current Trade
Promotion Authority. This would allow Trump to make a deal
subject only to a majority vote in Congress. The full negotiation
process is likely to take months or years.

The move comes during a period of serious upheaval for US
trade policy. Trump initiated a trade war with China in July
that shows
no signs of slowing down
, and
steel and aluminum tariffs
on all imports to the US
have strained
relationships with allies.

But this is also the second attempt by Trump to try and
deescalate those tensions. In July, Trump and European Commission
President Jean-Claude Juncker announced
a preliminary trade agreement
designed to get the allies on
the same page. No formal free trade deal has emerged from that
handshake agreement.

The US is currently maintains 12 bilateral free trade
agreements, according to the
US Trade Representative
 and International Trade Commission,
and two major regional free trade agreements.

In addition, the statement appears to block the imposition
of additional tariffs during the negotiations.

“The United States and Japan will conduct these discussions
based on mutual trust, and refrain from taking measures against
the spirit of this joint statement during the process of these
consultations,” the two sides said. “In addition, we will make
efforts for the early solution of other tariff-related

While the development does not reverse Trump’s tariffs on
imports of steel and aluminum, the statement indicates that the
US would not impose further tariffs on Japan over the course of
talks. This is particularly important given the ongoing
investigation by the Trump administration into
tariffs on imported autos and auto parts

Japanese carmakers
in particular were worried about the
possible effects of a new auto tariff on their businesses.

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