US reaches trade agreements with Japan: Trump

September 17, 2019 09:12
A tariff deal with Japan would be made under a trade law provision that allows the US president to make reciprocal tariff reductions by proclamation, Trump says. Photo: Bloomberg

The United States has reached initial trade agreements with Japan on tariff barriers and digital trade, President Donald Trump said on Monday, adding that the deals will not require congressional approval.

In a letter to the US Congress released by the White House, Trump said that he intends to enter into the agreements “in the coming weeks”, Reuters reports.

In the letter, Trump notified lawmakers that the tariff deal would be made under a trade law provision allowing the US president to make reciprocal tariff reductions by proclamation.

“In addition, I also will be entering into an Executive Agreement with Japan regarding digital trade,” Trump said in the letter.

Neither agreement would require a vote in Congress under the so-called “fast track” approval process. The Trump administration last year notified Congress that it would pursue negotiations with Japan under this method.

Trump’s letter did not disclose any contents of the agreements, but Japan had previously said it was willing to consider a deal that would reduce agriculture tariffs to levels previously contemplated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that Trump quit on his third day in office in 2017.

Trump’s letter said the US would pursue further trade negotiations with Japan. 

Announcement of the Japan agreement left unclear whether Trump has agreed not to impose threatened national security tariffs on Japanese vehicles and auto parts.

Avoiding the “Section 232” tariffs of up to 25 percent was a major motivating factor for Tokyo in negotiating with Washington on trade, Reuters noted.

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