Japan, US agree to speed up trade talks aimed at bilateral deal

August 02, 2019 10:12
Tokyo and Washington share an understanding that they should try to strike a bilateral trade deal quickly, Japan's Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi says. Photo: Bloomberg

Japan and the United States have agreed to accelerate their trade talks, Japan’s Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington, Motegi said trade talks are progressing.

“We agreed to speed up talks,” Motegi was quoted as saying following the first day of meetings in the US capital.

“There is no doubt that talks are moving along. We have not completely agreed at the moment, so we will deepen our talks,” the Japanese minister said, without commenting on individual items.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he is unhappy with Japan’s trade surplus with the United States, much of it from auto exports, and wants a bilateral deal to fix it.

Trump has pressured Tokyo to accelerate talks for a bilateral trade deal that would open up Japan’s protected agriculture markets, such as beef and rice.

Asked about the prospect for an agreement, Motegi said he and Lighthizer didn’t discuss the details of the timing.

“We share the understanding that we don’t have much time,” Motegi told reporters.

The two sides will resume talks Friday.

The trade talks could gain momentum as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to visit New York in September, where he is expected to meet Trump.

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