U.S. and Japanese negotiators have reached an “agreement in principle” on a trade deal that would lower Japan’s tariffs on U.S. agricultural commodities and spare Japan from threatened U.S. industrial tariffs, sources — confirming reports out of Japan — tell Agri-Pulse.
The deal is scheduled to be announced soon in France during the ongoing G-7 summit that is being attended by President Donald Trump and Japanese President Shinzo Abe.
U.S. and Japanese negotiators, led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, toiled over the trade deal most of the past week in Washington.
The U.S. ag sector is eager for a free-trade agreement with Japan, a major buyer of U.S. beef, pork, wheat and dairy.
“A trade deal with Japan … would be a powerful signal that the U.S. can get deals done and wants to get them done quickly,” Alan Bjerga, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation said Friday as negotiations were ongoing. “A strong agreement will help the U.S. remain competitive in the long term.”
Japan was set to improve access to U.S. ag commodities as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, but Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal shortly after taking office. That allowed other Pacific Rim countries in the pact, like Canada and Australia, to benefit from reduced Japanese tariffs. European ag exporters are also reaping increased sales to Japan because of a separate pact between the EU and Japan.
“As the fourth largest market for U.S. agricultural products, improved access to Japan is imperative for the continued growth of the sector and the millions of American jobs it helps support,” agriculture groups and companies said in a recent letter to the USTR.
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