Trump Administration could reset U.S. Japan relations back to the 1980s

While the U.S. government may want Japan to open up its agricultural sector, Japan would prefer that the talks revolve around issues such as foreign direct investment, infrastructure and energy.

Japan has outright rejected U.S. demands for more access to its auto market saying the government has already taken steps to eliminate non-tariff barriers and tariffs altogether.

The rebuff to the U.S. comes in the wake of the United States submitting a report to the World Trade Organization which states, “a variety of non-tariff barriers impede access to Japan’s automotive market.”

In its report to the WTO, the U.S. government had stated that Japan’s agriculture sector remains protected by “substantial” barriers.

Japan’s Chief cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga retorted back saying “We do not impose import tariffs on cars, and we do not impose any non-tariff barriers”.

He went on to add, “Our position is that Japan’s auto market is already open. This is something that will be settled in our bilateral dialogue.”

Although in 2015 the U.S. government had made similar statement vis-a-vis Japan’s trade policies, this year its statements are more aggressive with the Trump administration’s emphasis on renegotiating trade deals.

Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister, Taro Aso and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will chair a joint dialogue through the economic ties between the two nations could potentially be re-written.

Japanese officials have hinted that they would prefer the talks to revolve around foreign direct investment, infrastructure and energy and avoid thorny issues such as agriculture and automobiles.

The Japanese media say the talks could begin as early as next month. The White House has yet to make any official announcement.

In the campaign trial, Donald Trump had criticised the insignificant number of U.S. auto exports to Japan. He had also indicated that he would prefer to trim free trade to protect U.S. jobs.

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