US-Japan bilateral trade deal a high priority

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 3:19am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 3:19am

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Friday expressed eagerness to start negotiations with Japan at an early date for a bilateral free trade agreement, saying the United States considers it a “very high priority” to forge such a deal with Japan.

The comment was taken as suggesting that the United States may propose talks for a bilateral FTA in a high-level economic dialogue the two governments are planning to start in April.

Japan “is a major trading partner and military defence partner of the US,” Ross said at a news conference after a meeting with Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo in Washington.

“So obviously, it would have very high priority” in the Trump administration’s trade policy, he said.

The new dialogue mechanism will be led by Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and US Vice President Mike Pence.

Referring to Trump’s call for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, Ross said the administration could inform Congress in the next couple of weeks about its intent to start talks on NAFTA.

The remark indicated renegotiations could start as early as June.

Trump has vowed to renegotiate the terms of NAFTA with a threat to leave the bloc if Mexico and Canada “refuse a renegotiation that gives American workers a fair deal.”