U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is hosting Japan’s economic advisor in DC this week as the two countries begin bi-lateral trade negotiations. Mary Kay Thatcher with Syngenta Government Relations told Hoosier Ag Today why a deal with Japan is so critical.
“Japan is such an important market and with Japan cutting a deal with the Europeans, we already know if we look at markets like wheat and dairy that they’re going to move away from the US to these places where there are no tariffs simply because it’s a better financial deal. So, I think the administration understands that.”
President Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on his first day in office. The new TPP that excluded the U.S. was enacted in December of last year. USDA Under Secretary for Trade Ted McKinney on the current relationship between the U.S. and Japan.
“I’ve been there several times and I know the relationship between our countries, generally speaking, is very strong. It is very strong. It’s like a blood brother or a blood sister; that’s tough to separate them. If we can come to an agreement sooner than later, I think we can avoid loss of market that’s the result of TPP being enacted.”
There were no official statements released after day one of talks on Monday, but Japan’s Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters that most of the three-hour meeting with Lighthizer was “frank and good”, and mostly centered on goods.
All this with Japan amid trade negotiations with China that are reportedly progressing. There remains debate though about the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement.
In testimony to Congress in February, Lighthizer warned, “There is no trade program in the United States if we don’t pass USMCA. There just isn’t one. What it says is that we don’t have a consensus and that we don’t want to stand up for our workers and our farmers and ranchers. I think there’s no less than that at stake.”
He added that there would be no credibility with China, or any other trading partner, if USMCA does not pass.