Japan

Trump urges Abe to balance U.S. deficit with Japan ‘very quickly’

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U.S. President Donald Trump urged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday to address the trade imbalance between the two countries "very quickly."

In a meeting in Buenos Aires, part of which was open to the media, Trump expressed appreciation for Japan's purchases of F-35s and other U.S. fighter jets, a move that has reduced the U.S. trade deficit with Japan.

But calling the deficit "massive" and "pretty substantial," Trump said, "We hope that we're going to be balancing it very quickly."

The leaders met as the two governments are set to start negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement as early as in mid-January.

The negotiations will be led by Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's economic revitalization minister, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Meeting on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Argentina's capital, Trump was expected to push Abe for the inclusion of services in a trade deal despite their agreement in September to start talks on goods only.

Trump has been criticizing Japan over its hefty and chronic goods trade surplus with the United States. His administration is expected to push Japan for increased market access for automobiles and agriculture in the negotiations.

Abe and Trump also discussed progress in the two countries' cooperation on advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific, as well as next steps to implement their shared resolve to expand collaboration in areas such as energy and infrastructure, according to the White House.

They were believed to have agreed to step up joint efforts to promote the denuclearization of North Korea and address Pyongyang's abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

In a separate meeting also involving Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the three leaders agreed to advance the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, a move apparently aimed at countering China's rising clout in the region.

It marked the first summit involving the three major democracies.

© KYODO

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