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The United States wants “stronger and more balanced bilateral trade relationships” with countries including Japan and South Korea, Vice President Pence said Tuesday, raising the prospect of opening bilateral talks with Tokyo and reviewing a deal already struck with Seoul.
Pence’s remarks, to business leaders in South Korea and then after meetings with Japan’s prime minister and his deputy Tuesday, hew closely to President Trump’s “America First” promises on the campaign trail.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States seeks stronger and more balanced bilateral trade relationships with every country, including Japan,” Pence said in Tokyo after opening an economic dialogue with his Japanese counterpart, Taro Aso. “We seek trade that is free. We seek trade that is fair,” Pence said.
Although the tone was friendly after the meeting, Japan and the United States appear to have decidedly different ideas about where their trading relationship should go.
Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact immediately after taking office, and Pence said Tuesday that the TPP was “a thing of the past.”
Instead, the vice president opened up the prospect of forging a bilateral deal with Japan, which Trump has repeatedly accused of engaging in unfair trade practices. The U.S.’s trade deficit with Japan stood at almost $69 billion last year.
The White House had asked Japan to open bilateral trade talks at this week’s first meeting, part of the administration’s efforts to rectify what it says is a trade imbalance. But Japan rejected the idea of starting bilateral trade negotiations, the Asahi Shimbun reported last week.
A bilateral deal would likely require Tokyo to respond to politically sensitive demands like removing trade barriers on cars and agriculture.
Instead, Tokyo is looking at reviving the TPP without the U.S.
2017.04.18 / 19:59