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The Future of Asia 2019

US-Japan trade talks off to a strong start, Tokyo trade chief says

Motegi says that America's requests do not exceed TPP levels

TOKYO -- Trade talks between Japan and the U.S. 'had a very good start', Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's Minister of Economic and Fiscal Policy, said here on Friday at Nikkei's Conference on the Future of Asia, .

The remarks come shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump's four-day visit to Japan. Motegi also met with his U.S. counterpart, Robert Lighthizer, in April and May .

While the U.S. seeks lower tariffs on farm products like beef, Japan has stuck to its position that the reductions should be kept to the same levels set by the Trans Pacific Partnership, which went into effect in December.

Motegi said that he believes the U.S. is requesting tariff reductions that do "not exceed the levels of the TPP" but are rather "adjusted to the levels other nations."

Ahead of the G-20 summit that Japan will host in June, Motegi said that Tokyo aims to hold discussions on rules for the free flow of digital data, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for at the conference on Thursday.

Motegi said that industrial data and anonymized personal data should be freely exchanged across national borders. "Japan will take the initiative in rulemaking for data distribution and taxation and will share those rules with other Asian countries," he added.

Regarding the ongoing U.S.-China trade war and protectionism, Motegi said it became an "escalation of tariff hikes." He noted that the slowdown in the Chinese economy is now being felt in the "exports and production operations of Japanese companies," emphasizing that there is mounting concern over the growing impact on the global economy.

"We need to find a solution based on rules and consultation, that is the direction we are looking for," Motegi said.

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