ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronCrossEye IconFacebook IconIcon FacebookGoogle Plus IconLayer 1InstagramCreated with Sketch.Linkedin IconIcon LinkedinShapeCreated with Sketch.Icon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerIcon Opinion QuotePositive ArrowIcon PrintRSS IconIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronTwitter IconIcon TwitterYoutube Icon
Trade War

US-Japan trade negotiators to meet again next month

Both sides agree on 'basic direction' but concrete deal not in sight

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, center left, and Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's economic and fiscal policy minister, center right, met for two days at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington.   © AP

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. and Japan wrapped up their first round of "free, fair and reciprocal" trade negotiations on Friday, agreeing to pursue further cooperation and meet again next month to work toward a concrete deal.

"We agreed to seek ways to promote Japan-U.S. trade and expand areas of cooperation based on a shared understanding," Japanese Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters after the two-day meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The two sides did not come to terms on how to pursue a formal deal, with Washington still pushing for a bilateral free trade agreement and Tokyo urging the U.S. to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership. They did agree on a "basic direction" of "filling the gap between our positions" and promoting bilateral trade, Motegi said.

Lighthizer and Motegi plan to hold a second round of talks before an expected late-September meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Motegi said he hopes Tokyo and Washington will be able to pick up where they left off next month and expressed confidence that the meeting will bear fruit.

"I don't think the U.S. is by any means dissatisfied with these talks," he said.

The two sides held in-depth discussions on such issues as agricultural products -- an area where Washington has pressured Tokyo to open its markets wider -- and Trump's proposal to raise tariffs on imported autos. Motegi said he and Lighthizer exchanged views, but he declined to provide details "at this stage."

Asked about the auto tariffs, Motegi said only that "building trust is absolutely vital." He likely did not receive a solid answer from the American side.

Proposals have surfaced for Japan to buy liquefied natural gas or defense equipment from the U.S. to reduce the trade imbalance -- a priority of Trump's. Motegi implied that the topic did not come up this time around, saying that "we may discuss topics besides trade rules during future talks."

Motegi and Lighthizer affirmed that they will work together against China's alleged violations of intellectual property rights and forced technology transfers, as well as cooperate on reform at the World Trade Organization.

You have {{numberReadArticles}} FREE ARTICLE{{numberReadArticles-plural}} left this month

Subscribe to get unlimited access to all articles.

Get unlimited access
NAR site on phone, device, tablet

{{sentenceStarter}} {{numberReadArticles}} free article{{numberReadArticles-plural}} this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most dynamic market in the world.

Benefit from in-depth journalism from trusted experts within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends September 30th

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media