NAGASAKI – As bilateral negotiations gather steam, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his hope Friday of reaching a trade deal “at an early date” that can benefit both Japan and the United States.
“It depends on future negotiations as to when we can reach a final agreement, so I can’t say now. That said, there is no change in our stance that we will aim to achieve a win-win outcome at an early stage,” Abe said at a news conference in Nagasaki.
His remarks came ahead of working-level talks to be held next Tuesday and Wednesday in Washington. The meeting is designed to prepare for the next round of ministerial negotiations later this month between economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
As U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking a bilateral deal to fix what he sees as imbalanced trade and reduce the hefty U.S. trade deficit with Japan, Tokyo and Washington have been stepping up negotiations with an eye toward reaching a deal by September.
Abe, whose party secured a solid win in the Upper House election last month, will likely meet with Trump on the fringes of the Group of Seven summit in France in late August. Another summit may be arranged in September on the occasion of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
Japan has been wary that it could be forced to make larger concessions on farm and industrial products than in its existing free trade agreements with other nations.
After the previous round of ministerial talks with Lighthizer in early August, Motegi revealed that the United States had indicated it would make a concession to allow the two countries to strike a deal at an early date.