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US and Japan sign fledgling trade deal

September 26, 2019

Tokyo and Washington have signed a limited trade deal that will end tariffs and open up markets on a wide range of products. However, for now at least, barriers remain in place when it comes to auto manufacture.

U. S. President Donald Trump (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe show their signature on the trade issue on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly
Image: picture-alliance/AP/Yomiuri Shimbun

US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inked their countries' new trade deal on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

The US president has been keen to agree a bilateral agreement with Japan since he pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal soon after taking office in 2017.

Read more: US-Japan trade deal: half-full or half-empty?

Trump hailed the signing as the "first stage of a phenomenal new trade agreement." He described the deal as "outlining the significant steps we're taking toward a fair and reciprocal trade agreement."

"This is a big chunk, but in the fairly near future we're going to be having a lot more comprehensive deals signed with Japan," Trump said.

The Japanese premier said the agreement could be "a win-win solution" for both countries.

The details

The deal reduces tariffs for $7 billion (€6.4 billion) in US farm exports, including beef and pork, as well as for American wheat and barley. Meanwhile, Washington has agreed to cut US levies on $40 million in Japanese agricultural goods and to ease tariff rate quotas on beef.

Read more: Can Trump prevent a US recession in election year?

The two sides reached a basic deal last August, but the auto industry has proved an thorny issue for negotiators. Japan fears Trump might impose new tariffs on automobiles, which make up a large part of its exports to the US.

Japan had wanted levies on cars and auto parts to be done away with, but could only ensure that they remained at 2.5% in the latest agreement. The US has agreed not to raise them — at least for the time being.

rc/se (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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