NEW YORK, Sept. 28 ― Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed new trade talks with the U.S. are different from a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA), when the two countries announced to enter into negotiations.
“This is totally different from any comprehensive FTAs that Japan signed before,” Abe told reporters after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings in New York on Sept. 26.
Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi also stressed that the new trade talks focus on goods and do not include rules on investment and services.
“Categorically, we can’t call this as a comprehensive FTA,” Motegi said.
An awkward explanation comes as the Abe administration has been saying that the talks with the U.S. under a new framework to discuss “free, fair and reciprocal (FFR)” trade issues would not become preliminary talks on launching an FTA negotiation.
“No matter what the government says, it’s no different than FTA talks,” said some lawmakers from the opposition parties.
Indeed, the joint statement by Japan and the U.S. said that the two will enter into negotiations for a trade agreement on goods, “as well as on other key areas including services, that can produce early achievements.”
“The United States and Japan also intend to have negotiations on other trade and investment items following the completion of the discussions of the agreement mentioned above,” it continued.
In recent months, the Trump administration has been able to lure strategic allied countries, including the EU, South Korea and Mexico, into changing the terms on their trade deals in the name of the threat of national security.
It has used a similar approach to pressure on Tokyo.