Japan signals access to its agri markets would cost US big bucks

Japan’s chief trade negotiator Toshimitsu Motegi said any trade deal with the U.S. could require approval from Congress, signaling the Asian nation may be seeking substantial concessions in exchange for opening up its agricultural markets.

President Donald Trump said Friday that talks are moving very quickly, and a deal could be signed by the time he visits Japan in May. Motegidamped concerns Trump’s ambitious target for reaching an agreement signals Japan would be in danger of having to concede on agricultural tariffs without getting much in return.

“I don’t think the president was referring to the timing when the agreement will take effect,” said Motegi, who’s also economy minister. “In principle these trade deals come into effect after coming to an agreement, then getting congressional or similar approval. This was the case with the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” he added, referring to the multilateral trade deal rejected by Trump.

Motegi’s comments suggest that American concessions may also be one of a magnitude that would require a U.S. congressional nod. He was speaking after a summit between Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington, at which the bilateral trade deal sought by the U.S. was one of the main topics of discussion.

The two sides kicked off trade talks last week, after more than two years of foot-dragging by Japan, which sought to persuade the U.S. to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. That deal was the successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

Under the original TPP agreement, Japan secured tariff cuts for autos and auto parts in the U.S. market. Trump has frequently lashed out at Japan for its trade surplus with the U.S., especially in the auto sector and insisted on bilateral talks.

“I think the president was referring to a time frame for coming to an agreement,” Motegi said. “But I think he was expressing a hope.”

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel