Business

Aso and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discuss global risks amid U.S.-China trade spat

Kyodo

Finance Minister Taro Aso met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday to discuss issues of global economic concern amid the escalating trade tensions between the United States and China.

“We discussed the ongoing close cooperation between the U.S. and Japan across a number of economic and security issues,” Mnuchin said in a tweet.

Aso and Mnuchin held talks on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in the city of Fukuoka.

The meeting comes as their countries have been discussing a bilateral trade agreement, with U.S. President Donald Trump urging Japan and other countries to help reduce U.S. trade deficits.

Japanese officials said prior to the meeting that Aso would explain Japan’s stance that the issue of global current account imbalances should be addressed through multilateral policy coordination, rather than through a bilateral trade deal.

Aso and Mnuchin also likely discussed sanctions on North Korea for violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning it from testing ballistic missile technology, according to the officials.

Mnuchin said Saturday he was not planning to touch on the inclusion of a provision to prevent competitive currency devaluation in a trade pact.

Japan’s position on the matter has remained unchanged, with no intention to discuss it, since Mnuchin proposed such a provision last year.

The Bank of Japan has maintained easing measures for years to ensure the world’s third largest economy fully rids itself of deflationary pressure. The yen has remained relatively weak as a result of the policy, helping support exports.

Such an agreement could restrict monetary authorities from intervening to stem excess volatility and disorderly movements in the currency market.