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Trump says U.S. reaches trade deals with Japan, no word on cars

Economic IndicatorsSep 17, 2019 02:00AM ET
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By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday Washington had struck trade agreements with Tokyo that could be implemented without congressional approval, but stopped short of assuring Japan that new tariffs would not be slapped on vital auto exports.

In a letter to the U.S. Congress released by the White House, Trump said that he intends to enter into the agreements on tariff barriers and digital trade "in the coming weeks" and was notifying lawmakers that the tariff deal would be made under a trade law provision allowing the U.S. president to make reciprocal tariff reductions by proclamation.

"In addition, I also will be entering into an Executive Agreement with Japan regarding digital trade," Trump said in the letter.

Neither agreement would require a vote in Congress under the so-called "fast track" approval process. The Trump administration last year notified Congress that it would pursue negotiations with Japan under this method.

On a critical issue to Japan, Trump's announcement left unclear whether he has agreed not to impose threatened national security tariffs on Japanese vehicles and auto parts. Avoiding the "Section 232" tariffs of up to 25% was a major motivating factor for Tokyo in negotiating with Washington on trade.

"At the finishing stage, we plan to reconfirm that 232 won't be imposed," Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan's lead negotiator, told a regular news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said the deal won't contain any provision on currencies - another worry for Tokyo. Japan wants to avoid any agreement hindering its ability to intervene in the foreign-exchange markets in the event of a spike in the yen, or to expand the Bank of Japan's massive monetary stimulus.

Trump said after the G7 summit last month that he was not considering auto tariffs "at this moment".

Over much of the past year, the scope of talks has narrowed to exclude the automotive sector, the source of most of the $67 billion U.S. trade deficit with Japan.

Instead, Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in August announced an agreement in principle of a deal that covered reductions in tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods, but not autos.

A spokesman for U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer could not immediately be reached for comment on the letter and the trade deals.

Trump and Abe said at the G7 summit in France that they hoped to sign the agreement at this month's United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Trump's letter did not disclose any content of the agreements, but Japan had previously said it was willing to consider a deal that would reduce agriculture tariffs to levels previously contemplated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that Trump quit on his third day in office in 2017.

Trump's letter said that the United States would pursue further trade negotiations with Japan.

"My Administration looks forward to continued collaboration with the Congress on further negotiations with Japan to achieve a comprehensive trade agreement that results in more fair and reciprocal trade between the United States and Japan," Trump said.

U.S. technology industry officials say they expect the digital trade agreement with Japan to be closely aligned with provisions in the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which follow the U.S. model for internet development.

The USMCA provisions aim to ensure the free flow of data across borders without taxation, prohibit data server localization requirements and limit governments' ability to require the disclosure of source code by the companies they regulate.

For Trump, the signing of even a partial trade deal with Japan centered largely on agriculture would provide some relief to U.S. farmers who have been battered by a 14-month U.S.-China trade war and lost market share.

Trump says U.S. reaches trade deals with Japan, no word on cars
 

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Bade Sahib
Bade Sahib Sep 16, 2019 9:56PM ET
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Trump is for Trump
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Sep 16, 2019 8:49PM ET
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"In many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat. It just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans. Now, it shouldn't be that way. But if you go back, I mean it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats.” Donald J. Trump (registered Democrat) 2004
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Sep 16, 2019 8:49PM ET
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I think it’s funny the thumbs down i get on this. It’s a quote from an interview. It’s what he said. And he was a registered democrat. And was (and still is an economically liberal socialist). If you are a Republican and gave this a thumbs down, i think you need to check exactly who this guy is and what he’s about. I am a conservative and this guy has no place here in the GOP. Wake up!!!
Bronson Naab
Bronson Naab Sep 16, 2019 8:49PM ET
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alvlajthe GOP is dead. They have no real values anymore. It’s the party of Trump.
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Sep 16, 2019 8:49PM ET
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Bronson Naabha! Trump has values. Enjoy your kool-aid.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Sep 16, 2019 8:34PM ET
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I wonder how msny stays at Trump tower closed this deal??
Zoltan McVeigh
Zoltan McVeigh Sep 16, 2019 8:20PM ET
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I guess you don't realize congress gave the office of President that authority.
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Al Vlaj
alvlaj Sep 16, 2019 8:20PM ET
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Zoltan McVeighI never said Obama wasnt a liberal. I am saying Trump is one also. Trade deals are socialist. Protectionism is. Trump is a socialist who spends more liberally than any democrat in history. Why? Because he is an economic liberal who hijacked our beloved GOP and in instilling liberal Liz Warren / Bernie Sanders style trade policies.
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Sep 16, 2019 8:20PM ET
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Zoltan McVeighit absolutely was NOT for trade negotiations. That is entrusted to Congress to levy. It came from the “Trading With The Enemy Act of 1917” where the president himself can impose tariffs during times of war. But the law is vague and it doesnt state that the US has to be at war with the country tariffs are imposed upon. Because we are “at war” with “any country” currently the president is entrusted with this power. Definitely NOT for negotiations.
Zoltan McVeigh
Zoltan McVeigh Sep 16, 2019 8:20PM ET
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Fast track process wasn't around in 1917.
Zoltan McVeigh
Zoltan McVeigh Sep 16, 2019 8:20PM ET
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Trade act of 1974. Google it.
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Sep 16, 2019 8:20PM ET
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Zoltan McVeighthat allows for 150 days of tariffs else the trade policy requires congressional approval. Many of these policies are well over 150 days. I am sure you know that because you cleary have google access.
Al Vlaj
alvlaj Sep 16, 2019 8:08PM ET
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You hear that, Mitch? Your services are no longer needed. We now have a economically liberal dictatorship like Venezuala put in place by the GOP. Congress can go now...
 
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