US and Japan to include digital products in trade talks

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi

WASHINGTON — The U.S. and Japan concluded their first round of high-level negotiations on a bilateral trade deal on Tuesday, with the two sides pushing to finalize the scope of an agreement, including e-commerce and trade in digital products.

Japanese Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer attended the second day of talks, which lasted three hours. They discussed which products to include in a deal to cut tariffs on goods, among other topics.

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We are ready to start negotiations on trade in goods, including farm products and automobiles.We both agree that we want to produce good results quickly.

Motegi told reporters after the meeting

With regard to services, other than data,

the U.S. side made no reference to areas of specific interest

Motegi said.

During the talks, Japan reiterated that it cannot cut tariffs on agricultural products below levels set in such trade deals as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which the U.S. withdrew from soon after Donald Trump became president.

With the TPP taking effect, American farmers are at a competitive disadvantage in Japan because their products face higher tariffs. Washington has called for a prompt resolution, Motegi said. Under the terms of the TPP, Japan will cut tariffs on beef imports, for example, to 9% from 38.5% over 16 years.

The U.S. again complained about its $67.6 billion trade deficit with Japan, most of which comes from autos. In future talks Washington may make tough demands, such as reducing exports of Japanese cars to the U.S. and importing more U.S.-made cars to Japan. Tokyo opposes export quotas on cars.

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