Trump says US-Japan trade deals reached

Clay Curtis
September 17, 2019

President Donald Trump on Monday said the United States had reached an initial agreement on tariffs with Japan, after often claiming that Tokyo has had an unfair advantage in bilateral trade.

Accordingly, pursuant to section 103 (a)(2) of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (Public Law 114-26, Title I) (the "Act"), I hereby notify the Congress that I intend to enter into a trade agreement regarding tariff barriers with Japan under section 103 (a) of the Act.

In a notice to Congress on Monday, Trump also said the USA will be entering an "executive agreement" with Japan over digital trade.

As for the this agreement, although the details have not been revealed, reference on auto tariffs are omitted as well.

The announcement left unclear whether Trump has agreed not to impose national security tariffs on Japanese vehicles and auto parts.

"We are aware of the internal process that is going on in the USA and the president's notice of the U.S-Japan trade negotiations", Motegi told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday. Japanese media has reported that the sides had agreed to lower tariffs on US beef and pork to levels offered to members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "It's tremendous for the farmers", Trump had said.

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Toshimitsu Motegi, who became foreign minister last week after negotiating the deal as economy minister, said Japan must watch carefully to prevent Washington from forcing any last-minute changes, Kyodo News agency reported.

U.S. technology industry officials say they expect the digital trade agreement with Japan to be closely aligned with provisions in the new U.S. -Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which follow the U.S. model for internet development.

Finance Minister Taro Aso acknowledged the deal can also no longer possess any provision on currencies - one other peril for Tokyo.

A spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer could not immediately be reached for comment on the letter and the trade deals.

That demand by USA lawmakers would tie Japan's ability to intervene in currency markets should the yen spike and threaten the country's export-reliant economy.

Those provisions aim to ensure the free flow of data across borders without taxation, prohibit data server localisation requirements and limit governments' ability to demand companies disclose their source code.

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