Japan’s ruling LDP trade chief rejects to enter FTA talk with US

TOKYO, Aug. 1 ― Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) trade chairman has said the upcoming ministerial-level trade talks with the U.S. should not lead to a free trade negotiation between the two.

“It is important that this dialogue should not become preliminary talks on launching official free trade negotiations between Japan and the U.S.,” Hiroshi Moriyama, chairman of the LDP’s Diet Affairs Committee, told the Japan Agriculture News in an interview.

Moriyama is also the chairman of the party’s internal trade task force, which deals with the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“With the TPP, Japan granted significant concessions for agricultural products as much as we could, simply because this regional deal would offer good causes that the bilateral trade agreement couldn’t deal with,” Moriyama said.

“Therefore, when it comes to agriculture, there is no way for Japan to offer the same level of market access to Washington bilaterally,” he added.

His comment came as Japan and the U.S. will hold talks to discuss on “free, fair and reciprocal (FFR)” trade.

Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and his U.S. counterpart, Robert Lighthizer, will meet in Washington on Aug. 9-10. Autos are expected to be high on the agenda.

Japanese farm lobbies fear that 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.

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