Japan ag negotiations won’t go beyond TPP

Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said late Tuesday that he and Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi had reaffirmed “their shared goal of achieving substantive results on trade in furtherance of the joint statement issued by President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on September 26, 2018.”

That statement said, “For Japan, with regard to agricultural, forestry, and fishery products, outcomes related to market access as reflected in Japan’s previous economic partnership agreements constitute the maximum level.”

That joint statement was a reference to the agriculture provisions in the Trans Pacific Partnership proposal from which Trump withdrew upon taking office. Japan and the other countries went ahead with the agreement. If Japan agrees to honor the same provisions for the United States, it will still improve U.S. access to the Japanese market.

Lighthizer added today, “The United States and Japan discussed trade issues involving goods, including agriculture, as well as the need to establish high standards in the area of digital trade. In addition, the United States raised its very large trade deficit with Japan – $67.6 billion in goods in 2018.”

Washington Trade Daily noted Tuesday that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said last week he hoped the United States and Japan could reach a trade agreement very quickly because U.S. agriculture producers are losing market share in Japan since the Comprehensive and Progressive TransPacific Partnership Agreement was launched without the United States.

WTD also reported that U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue made a similar pitch for a U.S.-Japan trade deal in an op-ed published by CNBC. “We can’t allow ourselves to fall behind on trade,” he warned. The United States needs a trade agreement with Japan because Tokyo has been engaging in trade deals with other countries that exclude the United States, he said.

“The rising tide of trade between Japan and its new trade agreement partners has meant lost sales for Americans,” he wrote. “U.S. pork exports to Japan, the top export destination, have dropped by 35 percent so far this year. U.S. wheat and barley sales to Japan are also suffering. The trend extends to manufactured goods as well.”

Donohue also urged the Trump administration to drop tariffs on Japanese steel and aluminum and the threat of tariffs on auto parts, WTD said.

–The Hagstrom Report