US and Japan trade talks set back after fresh tariffs imposed on China

US and Japan trade talks set back after fresh tariffs imposed on China: Beijing today, Tokyo tomorrow?

Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Important trade talks between America and Japan have been delayed a few days after fresh tariffs imposed on China. Hence, scheduled talks planned for September 21, will now be held back until fresh tariffs come into effect on September 24 against China.

Tense talks between Robert Lighthizer (the United States Trade Representative) and Toshimitsu Motegi (the Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry) were expected despite the friendly relations between America and Japan. Also, with President Donald Trump of America and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan expecting to meet on the sidelines next week, then important talks between Lighthizer and Motegi was preferable. Therefore, the delay is likely to reduce the impact of talks between Trump and Abe.

Equally important, Trump is reluctant to look weak in the area of trade. In this sense, uncertainness and fresh tensions between America and China bode ill for Japan. After all, with Trump seeking a free trade bilateral agreement with Japan – rather than Japan’s multilateral approach via the Trans-Pacific Partnership – then the leader of America will loathe to climb down when the stakes are so high between America and China.

Reuters reports, Tokyo wants to avert steep tariffs on its car exports and fend off U.S. demands for a bilateral free trade agreement that could force it to open sensitive markets such as agriculture. Japan instead wants to persuade the U.S. to rejoin the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

However, despite policymakers in the corridors of power in Tokyo, including Motegi, seeking a smooth trade partnership with America, it is clear that Trump in the past expressed anger towards both China and Japan – and other important trading nations. Hence, it seems that America will demand something from Japan, even if the Trump administration acknowledges extremely friendly ties between both nations in many important areas, notably geopolitics.

Therefore, America is waiting on the response of China towards fresh tariffs on this nation and the start of this date prior to the meeting between Lighthizer and Motegi. The BBC reports, “The US is imposing new tariffs on $200bn (£150bn) worth of Chinese goods as it escalates its trade war with Beijing.”

Trump stipulated strongly, unfair trade practices, including subsidies and rules that require foreign companies in some sectors to bring on local partners…We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices…”

In a sense, Japan is equally being reminded that the Trump administration seeks a fresh economic start based on fairness. Hence, Japan should take note that Trump is adamant that change must happen – Beijing today, Tokyo tomorrow, even if the nuance, gap in thinking, and ties are different.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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