White house hopeful of US-Japan trade deal by May-end

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Washington, April 27 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has said that trade talks between the Washington and Tokyo were “moving along very nicely” and suggested a deal might be reached by late May as he met visiting Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe at the White House.

During his meeting with Abe at the White House on Friday, Trump highlighted his primary goal, which is gaining more access to Japan’s market for American farmers, The New York Times reported.

“We’ll be discussing, very strongly, agriculture,” Trump said.

“Because, as the Prime Minister knows, Japan puts very massive tariffs on agriculture – our agriculture – going for many years, going into Japan. And we want to get rid of those tariffs.”

The two sides were also discussing economic and security concerns, and advisers from the two countries wrapped up a series of meetings on Friday on efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

On Friday evening, the leaders and their wives were scheduled to celebrate the birthday of US First Lady Melania Trump over dinner, and on Saturday to play a short round of golf.

Trump’s aggressive approach to trade, along with security concerns about North Korea and China, has brought Japan back to the negotiating table.

The President has already placed tariffs on Japanese steel and aluminium and has threatened to impose hefty tariffs on the approximately 1.7 million cars that Japan sends annually to the US.

Trump’s remarks come after he pulled the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation pact that Abe had negotiated with former President Barack Obama.

Japan, which formalised the trade agreement last year with the remaining 11 nations, initially refused to strike a separate deal with the US, insisting that it should instead return to the pact.

Trump indicated on Friday that a deal could be in the final stages by the time he heads to Japan in May to meet the new emperor, Naruhito, The New York Times said.

“I think it can go fairly quickly. Maybe by the time I’m over there, maybe we sign it over there. But it’s moving along very nicely, we’ll see what happens,” he added.

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