Japan-US trade talks will not lead to a new FTA: farm minister

TOKYO, April 21 — A recent announcement that Japan and the U.S. are to start talks on trade deals would not lead to “a new free trade agreement (FTA)”, Japanese Agriculture Minister Ken Saito has stressed.

“The announcement is neither considered as a new FTA negotiation, nor as preliminary talks to launch a bilateral trade negotiation,” Saito said at an April 20 press conference.

His comments came as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the U.S. President Donald Trump had announced in Florida after two days of meetings that ended April 18 that they will start talks on “free, fair and reciprocal trade deals.”

However, the announcement has left many questions unanswered, including what type of trade deals the two countries would work on.

For Japan, keeping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has become the Abe administration’s core strategy for dealing with U.S. pressure to begin negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement.

This is because Tokyo fears U.S. demands to further market access, particularly in areas such as cars and beef, which may go beyond the concessions it made as part of the original TPP.

Then, after a dinner with Abe at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort club on April 17, Trump said again on Twitter that he does not like the TPP for his country.

“Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work,” he tweeted. “Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers. Look how bad WTO is to U.S.”

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