Japan won’t make concessions in US trade talks

Tokyo: Japan will not make concessions in its negotiations with the US for a bilateral trade deal, Finance Minister Taro Aso said.

Aso, who is also the deputy prime minister, warned that Tokyo will maintain a firmer stance with Washington when it comes to dealing with the future pact, following the US’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement under President Donald Trump, Efe news reported.

“If we do bilateral negotiations with the US, we can’t make any concessions,” Aso told a Japanese daily on Thursday.

“It would be good if the US joined the TPP later on, once it understands that a free trade agreement would have tougher terms,” he said.

Aso said he remains confident that the US might still rejoin the TPP, but stressed that there would be no renegotiation on the terms of the agreement.

He said he expects a definitive answer from Washington on whether it would return to the TPP by 2018, when midterm elections will be held.

Since Washington’s departure from the ambitious 12-nation agreement, the Japanese government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has urged the US to reconsider, with the TPP viewed as a fundamental part of Tokyo’s strategy to re-launch its economy.

But US Vice President Mike Pence said following a meeting with Aso in Tokyo on April 18 that the Trump administration already considers the TPP agreement a thing of the past.

At the meeting, Pence and Aso initiated a process of high-level economic dialogue, which will continue until the end of the year with the aim of opening negotiations for a future bilateral trade agreement.