Japan has no interest in trade deal with just U.S., top government spokesman says
Japan Times -- Jul 24
One of Japan’s top policymakers has indicated that the government will continue to resist U.S. efforts to create a bilateral free trade agreement between the two nations.

“Japan is not going to do anything with any country that harms the national interest,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. “With FTA negotiations too, we’ll handle them in that way.”

During a wide-ranging interview in Tokyo on Saturday, Suga also said he expects Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to stand for re-election in September as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. If Abe wins that contest, which appears likely, he could remain prime minister until 2021 to become the nation’s longest serving postwar prime minister.

Suga’s comments on the trade relationship with the U.S. came as officials from the Group of 20 countries meeting in Argentina pushed back against the Trump administration, which has shunned multilateral agreements and embraced tariffs.

Economy minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are expected to sit down for bilateral trade discussions later this month.

Suga said that he knows the U.S. is keenly interested in a bilateral trade deal, but that Japan will continue to insist that the U.S. returning to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is in the best interests of both countries. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement during his first week in office.

At home Japan needs to ensure that the economy doesn’t slump with an increase in the sales tax planned for October 2019. Government advisers have suggested tax relief for home and car purchases, as well as measures to raise the nation’s potential growth rate.

News source: Japan Times
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