• Kyodo

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s planned visit to Japan will likely be from April 17 or 18 for the purpose of starting a bilateral economic dialogue, as agreed by the two countries’ leaders last month, a Japanese government source said Thursday.

During his two- or three-day stay, Pence will hold talks with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as finance minister, according to the source. The Japanese government is also considering inviting the vice president to Kyoto.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed during their summit in Washington in February to launch the dialogue to discuss topics ranging from the economy to trade.

Pence has been scheduled to visit Japan for an event during a meeting between U.S. and Japanese business leaders in Tokyo.

Trump’s protectionist stance on trade has sparked concerns in Japan, where the economy relies heavily on exports for growth. The president has announced U.S. withdrawal from a Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade accord and threatened to impose a border tax.

As Trump is opting for bilateral rather than multilateral trade deals, the United States may call for further concessions on agricultural produce such as beef, pork and rice than what was agreed under the TPP framework.

On the prospect of a bilateral free trade agreement, Abe told a meeting of the Upper House Budget Committee on Thursday that Aso and Pence will “discuss various options.”

Construction of infrastructure, an area where Japanese companies are globally competitive, is one of the expected agenda items for the dialogue.

In his first address to Congress on Wednesday, Trump pledged to boost the U.S. economy with $1 trillion worth of infrastructure investment.

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