Select Page

Japan hopes low-key strategy will avert U.S. trade flare-up: Economic talks between the United States and Japan, tackling topics from persimmons and potatoes to energy and infrastructure, have helped keep Tokyo clear of protectionist moves such as those that recently hit Chinese solar panels and South Korean washers.

Japan hopes that “let’s talk” approach – plus warm personal ties between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump – will keep friction in check. But officials and lawmakers say the outlook could change if the unpredictable U.S. leader turns his attention to Tokyo’s 7 trillion yen ($63.62 billion)trade surplus ahead of U.S. congressional elections in November.

“Naturally, America wants an early conclusion to what to do about its trade deficit (with Japan). Of course, they are concerned about the mid-term elections and may say various things,” said a ruling party lawmaker well-versed in U.S.-Japan economic ties, one of eight officials and lawmakers interviewed by Reuters who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.

“Suga is worried,” he added, referring to Abe’s close aide, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Efforts to showcase the U.S.-Japan security alliance in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats will probably take precedence over trade when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits Japan from Tuesday, officials on both sides said.

Pence will not hold a formal third round of the so-called”economic dialogue” with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso while in Tokyo. The two last met for a second round in October, when, among other things, they agreed to lift restrictions on Japanese persimmon exports and U.S. Idaho potato imports as well as streamline noise and emissions testing for U.S. auto imports. Read more

Read also: Nikkei ends at largest loss since 2016 after Dow’s record point fall

Japan hopes low-key strategy will avert U.S. trade flare-up: Economic talks between the United States and Japan, tackling topics from persimmons and potatoes to energy and infrastructure, have helped keep Tokyo clear of protectionist moves such as those that recently hit Chinese solar panels and South Korean washers.