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Sunday, 22 May 2022
US-Japan trade talks ‘will bring peace of mind to farmers, automakers’
Newly appointed Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi speaks during a press conference at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo on September 11, 2019. (AFP)

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said trade talks with the United States will bring peace of mind to farmers and automakers, according to an interview with public broadcaster NHK aired on Sunday ahead of a key bilateral meeting this week.

Motegi handled talks with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer under his previous role as economy minister and is expected to meet him ahead of a summit between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“(We) have been holding negotiations on the basis of trust,” Motegi told NHK in the interview. “I don’t have any worry at all about the things ahead.”

Trump and Abe are expected to secure a deal on farm tariffs and digital trade when they meet in New York this week. Full details of the prospective trade agreement have not been disclosed.

One unresolved issue relates to auto exports. Motegi has said he wants a written assurance that Trump will not impose tariffs on US-bound auto exports from Japan.

However, any promises arising from this week’s talks will still need Trump’s final approval, adding uncertainty to the prospects of a deal, Japanese sources familiar with the matter told Reuters recently.

Autos make up about two-thirds of Japan’s trade surplus with the United States and such tariffs would hurt its trade-reliant economy. Japanese manufacturers have already come under heavy pressure this year from slowing overseas demand.