President Donald Trump said the US is making “great progress” in trade negotiations with Japan even though a deal could come only after the latter’s elections in July.
“Agriculture and beef heavily in play” in the talks, Trump tweeted after spending about 2 1/2 hours golfing with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“Much will wait until after their July elections where I anticipate big numbers!”
The president arrived in Japan for a four-day visit. The US is threatening to raise auto tariffs and seeking more access to Japan’s agricultural market. The two countries won’t reach a trade deal before Trump and Abe meet on Monday, Japan Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said following talks with his US counterpart.
Japan is expected to head to the polls for the upper house in July, and many have predicted the government will take the opportunity to dissolve the more powerful
lower house and hold a general election.
“POTUS will wait until after the July elections in the House of Councillors (Japanese equivalent of the Senate) before really pushing for a deal,” John Roberts, chief White House correspondent at Fox News, tweeted earlier, citing a call from Trump.
The two countries still had differences and agreed to work to close the gaps, Motegi said after nearly three hours of discussions with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Saturday in Tokyo.
They didn’t discuss contentious issues such as US threats to restrict Japanese car exports and applying a currency clause, Motegi said. “We agreed to work to get a deal done quickly.”
Japan this month lifted longstanding restrictions on some US beef, allowing products from all cattle to enter the Asian nation for the first time since 2003.
Japan banned US beef after a case of mad cow disease was found in Washington state in December 2003 and restored partial access two years later while prohibiting products from older animals.
US beef was on the lunch menu after Trump and Abe’s game of golf on Sunday, in the form of a double cheeseburger, according to Japan’s foreign ministry. It was the fifth time the two had played together, and they “deepened their friendship amid a cozy atmosphere,” the ministry said in a statement.
Trump this month declared that imported cars represented a threat to US national security but announced a six-month delay in imposing new tariffs on imported vehicles and parts from Japan and other nations in order to pursue negotiations. He wants to cut the US trade deficit with Japan.
Trump ribs Toyota executive
President Donald Trump’s dinner with Japanese business leaders included one who had unusually sharp words for him just last week.
Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp, was among Japan’s top executives who met Trump soon after he arrived in Japan for a four-day visit.
Earlier this month, he had rebuked Trump’s declaration that imported cars and components threaten US national security, saying it sent a message to Toyota that its US investments aren’t welcomed.
Trump looked for Toyoda around the room in pre-dinner remarks at the US ambassador’s residence in Tokyo, asking “where’s Toyota?”
“There’s nothing like the boss,” he said after people pointed out Toyoda in
the crowd. “I thought that was you.”
Toyoda is also chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association. Other automaker chiefs invited to the dinner included those from Nissan Motor, Honda Motor, Mazda Motor Corp and Subaru Corp.