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U.S., Japan reach a limited deal on agriculture, digital trade

U.S., Japan reach a limited deal on agriculture, digital trade

Shinzō Abe and Donald Trump

President Donald Trump (right) meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe during the United Nations General Assembly. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo

NEW YORK — The United States and Japan have struck a limited trade deal that will cut tariffs on agricultural and industrial products as well as provide rules for digital trade.

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announced the agreement during a meeting on Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

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Japan agreed to cut or eliminate tariffs on beef, pork and other commodities on a level similar to what Tokyo agreed to in the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade deal that the president withdrew from during his early days in office. The deal could provide some badly needed relief to U.S. farmers who have been hit hard by Trump’s trade fight with China.

“Under the market access agreement, we are announcing today that Japan will open new markets to approximately $7 billion in American agricultural products.” Trump said alongside Abe in New York. “Japanese tariffs will now be significantly lower or eliminated entirely for U.S. Beef, pork, wheat, cheese, corn, wine, and so much more.”

“This is a huge victory for America’s farmers, ranchers, and growers. That’s very important to me,” he added.

Japan was motivated to pursue a deal with the U.S. to escape Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on imports of automobiles and auto parts for national security reasons.

Tokyo had sought language that would provide a clear exemption from the tariff threat. Talks hit a temporary snag when Japan pushed the U.S. to agree to a provision that would allow Tokyo to reimpose agriculture tariffs and back out of the agreement Trump followed through with the auto threat.

The agreement won’t need congressional approval and can go into effect as soon as it is ratified by Japan’s legislature. The Trump administration said the agreement is the first phase of a more comprehensive agreement that will be negotiated with Tokyo.

“In the fairly near future, we are going to be having a lot more, very comprehensive deals, signed with Japan,” Trump said.

The deal with Japan fulfills Trump’s desire to show some results on his trade agenda. Talks with China are creeping along with no substantive agreement in sight and efforts to get a NAFTA replacement deal passed in Congress could fall victim to politics related to an impeachment inquiry from House Democrats.

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