Trump hopeful about trade deal with Japan; host not as optimistic

President Donald Trump speaks as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens during a news conference at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo on Monday. Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/EPA-EFE

May 27 (UPI) — President Donald Trump is hopeful about a trade agreement by August with Japan though his host at the summit in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is not nearly as optimistic.

Trump has threatened to raise tariffs on the approximately $50 billion worth of cars and auto parts Japan exported to the United States annually by November because he believes they represent a threat to U.S. national security. But he agreed to a six-month delay.

“Trade-wise, I think we will be announcing some things, probably in August, that will be very good for both countries,” Trump said Monday before he began talks with Abe. “We have to do a little catching up with Japan because they’ve been doing much more business with us, and we’d like to do a little bit more business in the reverse. The balance will — we’ll get the balance of trade, I think, straightened out rapidly.”

At a news conference after the talks, Trump said the United States and Japan are “working to improve our economic relationship based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity. We are currently negotiating a bilateral trade agreement that would benefit both of our economies. Our goal is to reduce our trade deficit with Japan, remove trade barriers, and barriers of all kinds, so that U.S. exports will really have a fair and very profound footing.”

But Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters afterward there had been “absolutely no” agreement on getting the trade deal by August. He was present for the summit,

During a news conference earlier, Abe said he and Trump agreed to further accelerate talks.

“With President Trump, we agreed that — let us accelerate the talks between the ministers,” Abe said. “So we have joint statement, and that must be the grand premise upon which we must create win-win result, which would be beneficial to both nations. That is my thinking.”

The discussions would be based on a joint statement last September in which Japan won’t be required to offer more access to its farm markets.

Trump has wanted greater access to the world’s third-largest economy for American farmers.

One week ago, U.S. beef gained full access to Japanese markets for the first time since 2003. “We hope to have even more to announce on the trade very, very soon,” Trump said.

Trump also he said expects a trade deal with China “sometime into the future.”

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Trump has already slapped tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, and the Asian nation reciprocated this month with tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods.

“I don’t believe that China can continue to pay these really hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs,” he said.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet next month during a world leaders’ summit in Osaka, Japan.

Abe hopes for a trade deal between the United States and China.

“Between the two countries, stable economic relationship is built,” Abe said. “That would benefit not only Japan but the Asian countries and to the whole world. It’s very important that there be stable economic relationship.”

Abe and Trump later appeared together at a state dinner.

“Good evening, we are profoundly honored to return to Japan as your nation’s first state guests following the enthronement of his majesty the emperor,” Trump said, according to a pool report. “We thank the people of Japan for their incredible hospitality and warm welcome in this majestic land.”

Trump then toasted his hosts.

“In the spirit of beautiful harmony may we celebrate the many possibilities … and may we protect the cherished bond,” Trump said. “Thank you and our very best wishes to you, the imperial family and all of Japan for a peaceful and prosperous Reiwa era.”

Earlier in the day, Trump met with Emporer Naruhito and his wife, Empress Masako.

It was preceded by a grand outdoor welcome ceremony at Japan’s Imperial Palace, where Trump reviewed Japanese troops as the guest of honor.

He also privately met with families of Japanese people abducted by North Korea.

“I got the impression that President Trump is really thinking about making a breakthrough on this issue,” Shigeo Iizuka, 80, whose sister was abducted in the 1970s, told ABC News. “I hope President Trump’s involvement helps to break the deadlock.”

The four-day trip ends Tuesday. The president participates in a farewell call with the emperor and empress, a visit at Japan’s helicopter carrier, the JSS Karga, then a Memorial Day address to the troops aboard the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship, according to a White House schedule.

Air Force One is scheduled to depart at 12:30 p.m. from Tokyo and arrive 15 hours later at Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday afternoon.

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