TOKYO, July 20 ― Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has called for not entering trade negotiations with the U.S., as Tokyo is set to hold its first bilateral trade talks with Washington on Aug. 9.
The LDP’s internal trade task force, which deals with the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), submitted a resolution to Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on July 19.
The party emphasized in the resolution that it would not accept for the government to offer Washington the same level of market access that Tokyo promises in the TPP deal.
In April, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to start talks on “free, fair and reciprocal (FFR)” trade issues. Economy Minister Motegi and his U.S. counterpart, Robert Lighthizer, will head up the new trade talks.
In May, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross launched a Section 232 investigation that could lead to impose higher U.S. tariffs on autos in the name of national security.
So, autos are expected to be high on the agenda at the FFR talks.
Japanese farm lobbies are now concerned if Tokyo may offer to negotiate a trade deal that would open its agriculture market further to Washington to persuade President Trump not to raise duties on Japanese cars.
For Japan, keeping the TPP is Prime Minister Abe’s core strategy for dealing with the U.S. pressure to begin negotiations on a bilateral trade deal.
Tokyo fears U.S. demands to further market access, particularly in areas such as cars and farm products, which may go beyond the concessions it made as part of the original TPP.