Abe, Trump agree forex talks best left to finance leaders of both countries

US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe posing for photos at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe posing for photos at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday (Feb 14) that he agreed with US President Donald Trump during a weekend bilateral summit that currency issues should be left for finance leaders of each country to discuss.

"When I was alone with the president at the White House, I told him that it would be inappropriate for us leaders to directly debate exchange-rate issues," Mr Abe told parliament.

"Currency issues are best dealt with by the finance minister and Treasury secretary of both countries," he said, adding that Mr Trump consented to the idea.

Japanese policymakers were shocked by an accusation by Mr Trump, made before the summit, that countries like China and Japan were manipulating their currencies to give their exports an unfair advantage.

However, Mr Trump made no public criticism of Japan's currency or monetary policies either during or after the weekend summit. A senior Japanese government spokesman said Mr Abe and Mr Trump did not discuss currency issues.

Key decisions on economic policy will likely be made at a US-Japan economic dialogue, to be led by US Vice-President Mike Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso.

Mr Aso, who is also finance minister, said Japan proposed to Mr Trump the idea of opening the economic dialogue to discuss issues including fiscal, monetary and structural policies.

"It may take some time but it's important to come up with a good framework" for the economic dialogue, Mr Aso told parliament.