What Happened: Japan will offer accelerated cuts to agricultural tariffs during talks between economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on June 20, Japan Today reported June 17. This would mean, for example, that Japanese beef tariffs would drop immediately to 26.6 percent as if the United States had joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in 2017 and then again to 25.8 percent a year later; the tariffs currently stand at 38.5 percent. In exchange, Japan will once more press for the United States to drop U.S. vehicle tariffs (2.5 percent on vehicles, 25 percent on trucks) to CPTPP levels.
Why It Matters: Japan is still clearly pushing for a reciprocal trade deal with the United States, and this is an effort to allow the United States agricultural access as if Washington had signed the deal in 2017 when U.S. President Donald Trump officially dropped out of talks.
Background/Context: Japanese and U.S. trade talks kicked off earlier this year after a late 2018 agreement between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to begin the process. Japan, already set to impose a potentially damaging consumption tax hike in October, needs to rapidly close a deal with the United States to forestall the blow to its economy from steep U.S. automotive tariffs suspended until November.
- Agriculture Is Still Vital to U.S. Trade Talks — For Now (May 2, 2019)
- Japan, U.S.: Industrial Giants Take the Slow Road to a Trade Deal (April 12, 2019)
- Japan Drafts a Delicate Approach to U.S. Trade Talks (Feb. 11, 2019)