Trump, at G-20, says there will be 'very big' trade deals with India, Japan

Topics US-Japan | G20 summit | Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump, left, poses with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a photo before a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka | AP | PTI
President Trump struck a conciliatory tone with other world leaders as the Group of 20 summit got started Friday, saying there would be “very big” trade deals to announce with India and Japan.

Mr. Trump didn’t provide specifics as he held meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But he praised both, assuaging concerns that he would provoke new tensions at the summit of the world’s 20 leading economies.

Before the summit, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that Indian tariffs recently announced against the U.S. were “unacceptable” and “must be withdrawn.”

He didn’t raise the issue in brief remarks to reporters as he sat with Mr. Modi. “I think we’ll continue to get along with India,” the president said. “I think we’re going to have some very big things to announce, very big trade deals.”

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said Messrs. Trump and Modi agreed to allow trade talks to resume “at an early date.” Mr. Modi said retaliatory tariffs were “something that already happened. We should now look forward,” according to Mr. Gokhale.

The two leaders, Mr. Gokhale said, discussed ways to develop and market American 5G technology in India.

Mr. Trump recently excluded India from a group of developing nations eligible for preferential tariffs on goods imported to the U.S., and New Delhi responded this month by retaliating against earlier U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs that affected the country.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are also looming over the summit, with foreign leaders calling for restraint. Mr. Trump, who last week called off a retaliatory strike against Iran for shooting down an unmanned reconnaissance drone, sounded hopeful about working things out.

“We have a lot of time—there’s no rush, they can take their time,” Mr. Trump said at the beginning of his meeting with Mr. Modi. “There is absolutely no time pressure. Hopefully in the end it’s going to work out. If it does, great, if it doesn’t, you’ll be hearing about it.”

Mr. Trump was similarly upbeat with Mr. Abe on Friday, in contrast to Mr. Trump’s earlier comments about the security relationship with Japan.

“We will fight at all costs, right? But if we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television, the attack,” Mr. Trump said in a Wednesday interview on Fox Business Network.

On Friday, the White House said the two leaders “reaffirmed their commitment to U.S.-Japan coordination on shared security challenges,” including North Korea and Iran.

Mr. Abe provided Mr. Trump with a list of recent Japanese investments in the U.S. by auto producers and others. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Trump praised the list. “We’re very happy about that,” he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also met Mr. Trump Friday, said “German companies are investing a lot” in the U.S.

“Since Mr. Trump is U.S. president, G-20 meetings change more and more,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters. “But the G-20 is not just about Trump’s moods. Others also have sensitivities.”

The White House has warned about the possibility of tariffs on auto imports that would affect Japan and the European Union. Japan and the U.S. are working toward a formal trade agreement, but officials have signaled major progress would come after Japanese parliamentary elections in July.

On Friday, Mr. Juncker said U.S.-China trade tensions were contributing to a global economic slowdown.

“In our talks both with the U.S. and the Chinese authorities, I was drawing attention to the harmful impact this controversial matter is creating,” Mr. Juncker said.

At the same time, EU officials said the bloc doesn’t want to be neglected and expressed concern about a possible deal giving American firms better treatment in China.

“We made it very clear to our counterparts that we don’t want to be treated with benign neglect when it comes to maybe an agreement between China and the U.S.,” Mr. Juncker said.

In May, the Trump administration delayed a decision on whether to impose tariffs on imported cars from Europe, Japan and other economies for up to six months.

“I don’t think we’ll talk about car tariffs at this G-20,” Mr. Juncker said. “But it’s on the radar.”

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