• Kyodo

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During a meeting with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko on Thursday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stressed the importance of reducing the U.S. trade deficit with Japan.

Lighthizer did not allude to the possibility of a free trade agreement between the two countries, Seko told reporters after the two met in Washington. However, Lighthizer himself has expressed a desire to reach a bilateral free trade pact with Japan.

The two did not discuss specific details about the trade imbalance, but reaffirmed the need for continued joint efforts to boost bilateral trade and investment, as well as to promote trade and economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, Seko said.

They also agreed to deepen cooperation in responding to unfair trade practices by third countries that generate global trade imbalances, he added.

Seko had separate meetings Thursday with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Gary Cohn, director of the White House National Economic Council.

On June 22, Lighthizer demanded that Japan make “unilateral concessions” on U.S. beef imports as part of efforts to reduce its trade surplus with the United States. He also told a congressional hearing that a free trade agreement with Japan would help boost agricultural exports to the country.

As of last year, the United States had trade deficits of $347 billion (¥38.8 trillion) with China, $69 billion with Japan, $65 billion with Germany and $63 billion with Mexico.

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