WASHINGTON – U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday that he expects the next stage of trade negotiations with Japan to start "in a few months," following up on a bilateral tariff-cutting deal they reached last year.
Upon reaching the deal, which took force in January, the two countries agreed to start further negotiations on issues including trade barriers in services and investment.
While lauding the phase one deal that granted greater market access to U.S. agricultural products as "spectacular," Lighthizer told a House of Representatives committee that the start of phase two has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
"We really have been slowed down more than anything by the fact that we've had this virus and haven't been able to meet. But it's still a priority," he said, adding, "I expect phase two to start in a few months."
In an annual report on foreign trade barriers that was released in late March, the USTR said over 90 percent of U.S. farm exports to Japan are duty-free or receive preferential tariff access under the trade agreement. But it also noted that "a broad range of barriers" still exist, such as over insurance services and foreign merger and acquisition activities.