• Kyodo


Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko plans to travel to the United States for talks with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross around March 16, sources said Monday.

If realized, it will be their first meeting since Ross took office last week. The two are expected to exchange views on Japan-U.S. trade and industrial policy matters such as auto manufacturing.

After a telephone conversation with Ross late Monday night, Seko told reporters that they agreed to meet in the United States at an early date, while reaffirming the importance of bilateral economic relations.

The U.S. Senate on Feb. 27 confirmed Ross, a billionaire private equity investor with business ties to Japan, as commerce secretary.

Ross will assist President Donald Trump’s efforts to reduce the trade deficit through increased exports and to boost investment — and increase employment — in the United States with tax cuts, deregulation and other incentives.

Ross is known in Japan for his takeover and restructuring of Kofuku Bank, an Osaka-based regional bank that went under in 1999, among other investments in Japanese companies.

He also served as chairman of the Japan Society, a New York-based nonprofit organization that promotes relations between Japan and the United States.

Ross is expected to take part in a high-level Japan-U.S. economic dialogue for economic and trade policy coordination that the two governments plan to start in Japan in mid-April.

The new commerce chief, however, may take a tough stance toward Japan, with which the United States had its second-largest trade deficit, after China, last year.

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