Trump Moves Ahead With U.S.-Japan Trade Pact That Eases Some Tariffs
Date: Thursday, September 19, 2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal
WASHINGTON—President Trump notified Congress on Monday that the U.S. and Japan were prepared to enter a limited agreement that would lower some tariffs and set terms of digital trade.
Mr. Trump and his counterpart in Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, had previously announced in August at a Group of 7 Summit in France that they had reached an agreement in principle to lower agricultural tariffs and industrial tariffs.
The two sides had earlier said that they expected to sign the deal at the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month. By sending formal notification to Congress, Mr. Trump can now move forward with signing that agreement. The congressional letter didn’t spell out the terms of the deal.
The U.S. and Japan have kept the scope of the talks limited to avoid the need for Congress to vote on the deal. In the letter, the Trump administration left open the possibility of doing a “comprehensive trade agreement” in the future and said it would continue to collaborate with Congress on future negotiations.
A deal in which Tokyo lowers its agricultural tariffs could allow U.S. farmers to better compete in Japan. American agricultural exporters have been disadvantaged in the Japanese market ever since Mr. Trump pulled out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership at the beginning of his presidency.
The other 11 nations continued negotiations and signed the deal, which meant that those countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico, secured lower tariffs selling their products into Japan’s long-protected markets for beef, pork and dairy.
For its part, Japan is expected to receive protection from the Trump administration’s threatened tariffs on automobile imports. The Trump administration has determined that automobile imports threaten U.S. national security and has the authority to impose tariffs on the basis of that finding.