U.S. signs limited deal with Japan on ag, digital trade

Doug Rand

President Trump today signed the U.S. -Japan Trade Agreement, which is an important step forward with U.S. agriculture's fourth-largest export market.

USA farmers maintain been running at a drawback in Japan since Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which had been negotiated by the Obama administration, however which Trump known as a unpleasant deal for the US.

Trump will be signing the U.S. Japan Trade Agreement & U.S. Japan Digital Trade Agreement around 3:30pm, in an event that will be open to the press.

While rewarding American farmers, the new US-Japan deal does not resolve differences over trade in autos. President Trump has said the two countries need to work on a more comprehensive agreement in order to accomplish that. The tariffs will go beyond airplanes, however, potentially raising the price of a variety of agricultural goods, including French wines, Italian cheeses and cashmere from the United Kingdom.

But Japanese automakers were disappointed that the United States kept existing auto tariffs at 2.5%.

The agreement will see Japan eliminate or reduce tariffs on an additional $7.2 billion of U.S. food and agricultural products, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Under the TPP, Japan would have accepted 70,000 metric tons of American rice per year tariff-free under a US -specific quota, but this was not included in the bilateral deal.

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Following the announcement of the deal in September, Trump trade adviser Robert Lighthizer said that new tariffs on Japanese cars were unlikely.

Abe also said, "We are about to see USA tariffs on a wide range of our country's industrial goods reduced or eliminated".

Among other things, the deal calls for reducing tariffs on pork - a key North Carolina product.

"We're not making the kind of sustainable money off our crops to keep [the farm] going", said Bert Pitt in a recent interview. In 2018, Japan imported $14.1 billion of such goods from the USA, and $5.2 billion were already duty free.

NC Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten said on balance, the new deal is "about the same" as that Obama-era pact.

Japan had until recently rebuffed trade talks with the U.S., insisting that the country rejoin the previously agreed partnership. Cloud computing and new financial technologies were still new and being developed during the many years the TPP was negotiated, so that deal included carve-outs that would have allowed some countries to require local housing of financial sector data. Iowa only exported more goods to Canada and Mexico.

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