Japan, U.S. formally sign bilateral trade agreement
WASHINGTON, Kyodo - Japan and the United States on Monday formally signed a bilateral trade agreement that is expected to put American farmers back on a level playing field with their international rivals through reduced tariffs on agricultural products.
The deal will become a “game changer for our farmers and our ranchers” providing them with “significantly enhanced access to a critical foreign market,” U.S. President Donald Trump said prior to the signing of the trade pact between Japanese Ambassador to the United States Shinsuke Sugiyama and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at the White House.
The agreement was reached late last month between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump, but the two countries have been working to finalize the text of the treaty. The United States hopes to put the pact into force on Jan. 1.
Trump has sought to reduce his country's chronic trade deficit with Japan and mollify U.S. farmers bearing the brunt of the abrupt U.S. withdrawal in 2017 from the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional free trade pact that involved countries like Japan and Australia.
The agreement will lead Japan to eliminate or reduce tariffs on an additional $7.2 billion of U.S. food and agricultural products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2018, Japan imported $14.1 billion in U.S. food and agricultural products, and $5.2 billion were already duty free.
The United States, meanwhile, will keep its 2.5 percent tariffs on automobiles from Japan, a tax that would have been eliminated had the United States remained in the TPP.
However, the Trump administration refrained from imposing higher auto tariffs on Japan for national security reasons, which the country had earlier threatened to do. (Kyodo)