G-7 summit

US, Japan reach broad agreement on trade deal

President Donald Trump on Sunday said he and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had agreed on the principles of a trade deal that would probably be signed next month in New York.
US President Donald Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a bilateral meeting during the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, on Aug 25, 2019.
US President Donald Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a bilateral meeting during the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, on Aug 25, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

BIARRITZ (France) • The United States and Japan have agreed in principle on a trade deal that will include Japanese purchases of US agriculture products, US President Donald Trump said.

Mr Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the announcement yesterday in Biarritz, France, at the Group of Seven summit after holding a bilateral meeting earlier in the day.

"We've agreed in principle," Mr Trump said, citing Japanese purchases of US corn as one part of the deal in principle, the scope of which was not immediately clear. "We've agreed to every point," he added.

The countries have reached consensus on "core elements" and are setting a goal to sign a deal at the end of next month during United Nations meetings, Mr Abe said via a translator. He said there was still some work to be done by officials.

Japanese media has reported that the US and Japan have agreed on a broad framework of a deal that will keep US tariffs on Japanese cars in place, while lowering tariffs on US beef and pork sales to Japan.

A draft agreement could be signed by the end of next month, the Nikkei newspaper reported. The deal would not cut the current US tariffs on Japanese vehicles, Japanese media reported, but could potentially defend the country against Mr Trump's threat of new auto tariffs.

Earlier in the day, Mr Trump reiterated that he was close to reaching what he described as a "very big deal" with Japan. "Frankly, I think what's happening with China helps with respect to Japan. But it's a very big deal. It will be one of the biggest deals we've ever made with Japan," he said.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had also said yesterday that he presumed there would be an announcement after Mr Trump and Mr Abe met.

Separately, Mr Trump also said yesterday that he was "not happy" about North Korea's latest missile test but played down the seriousness of the incident.

 
 
 

"I'm not happy about it but then again, he's not in violation of the agreement," he said after North Korean state media said its leader Kim Jong Un had supervised the test-firing of a "super-large multiple rocket launcher".

Pyongyang fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles on Saturday, Seoul's military said, the latest in a series of recent launches in protest against joint US-South Korean military exercises, which ended a week ago.

But Mr Abe took the opposite view, saying North Korea's latest missile test was a clear violation of UN rules that was "extremely regrettable".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2019, with the headline 'US, Japan reach broad agreement on trade deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe