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US, Japan to 'speed up' trade talks


AFP Osaka
The US and Japan will "speed up" talks on a trade agreement, Japan's economy minister pledged Friday, as Washington pushes Tokyo for a "more fair" trade relationship.
President Donald Trump, while touting his close ties with Japan, has repeatedly criticised Tokyo for what he views as a trade imbalance, with the issue coming up during his bilateral talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the G20 Friday.
"During the Japan-US summit, the two leaders agreed to speed up trade negotiations so that they can achieve results swiftly. Based on that, we held a ministerial meeting in the afternoon," Japan Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said after talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The two negotiators agreed to "vigorously push for meetings of working-level and high-level officials to move negotiations forward", Motegi told reporters.
The meetings will begin in early July to be followed by another round of ministerial-level talks, he added.
"Discussions have deepened. There is no doubt about it," he said, while declining to be drawn on details.
Trump has warned he wants Tokyo to further open its market to US products, especially in the agricultural sector, though the Japanese have so far appeared reluctant.
But Japan faces the spectre of auto-sector tariffs, which Trump has said he is willing to impose if a deal to his liking is not reached.
The two sides are not expected to strike a deal at least until after Japan's upper house election on July 21, with farmers a key constituency for Abe's ruling party.
On a visit to Japan in May, Trump said he was expecting to announce "some things" on trade negotiations in August, but no firm deadline has been set yet for an agreement.

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First Published: Jun 28 2019 | 7:00 PM IST

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