Business

Japan to promote U.S. natural gas exports to Asia

Kyodo

The Japanese government said it will promote the exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas to Asian countries to help slash Washington’s trade deficit.

Masaki Ishikawa, chief of the Trade and Economy Cooperation Bureau in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, spoke of the plan at a bilateral economic dialogue Monday in Washington, expressing hope it will “broaden the scope of Japan-U.S. cooperation.”

The United States has been producing increasing volumes of LNG while Asia sees rising demand of the gas used for electric power generation.

Under the envisioned cooperation, the government-backed Japan Bank for International Cooperation will offer loans for the construction of LNG shipment hubs.

Disaster and accident insurance associated with LNG sea transport will be provided by Nippon Export and Investment Insurance, which is wholly owned by the government.

In addition, the Japanese and the U.S. governments said they have agreed to offer personnel training for Vietnamese and Filipinos to assist LNG infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia.

The two countries will also team up on commercial LNG projects in Bangladesh, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump agreed during their Florida summit last week to start a new ministerial dialogue on trade and investment.

In the summit, Trump reiterated his willingness to discuss a bilateral trade deal with Japan rather than a multilateral one like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Trump administration views the huge U.S. trade deficit with Japan as problematic. A report released by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative earlier this year noted the United States “seeks equal and reliable access for American exports to Japan’s markets in order to address chronic trade barriers, imbalances and deficits with Japan.”

According to U.S. Commerce Department data, the U.S. goods trade deficit with Japan totaled $68.85 billion in 2017, the third-largest among countries with which the United States generated a trade deficit.

The second roundtable discussion on bilateral cooperation on infrastructure was held Monday as part of the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue led by Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and Vice President Mike Pence.

The roundtable at the U.S. State Department was attended by more than 150 government officials and representatives from the private sector, who discussed how they should boost cooperation in the fields of energy, transportation, telecommunication, and water and sanitation.