KYOTO – In a two-day meeting that started April 15, trade delegates from Japan and the United States held the first round of trade agreement negotiations. The meeting was expected to set the ground for a series of upcoming summits between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump. While the kickoff of the official trade talks could have started much earlier, as the Trump administration already gave Congress its 90-day advance notification on Oct. 16, the timing of the initial negotiation between economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer seems to have been carefully arranged by the Japanese side. Given the wish on both sides for a quick deal, the outcome will be a “skinny deal” at best, yet the achievement could be a win-win for both leaders if it’s materialized efficiently.
However, one may wonder why Japan is now ready to give Trump a trade trophy, even though it is not necessary for the Japanese side to capitulate immediately to his trade demands.