TOKYO: Donald Trump pressed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday to even out a trade imbalance with the United States and told a news conference with Abe after their summit that he wanted US exports to be put on a fair footing in Japan through the removal of trade barriers.
He said he hoped to have more to announce on trade very soon and said he and Abe had agreed to expand cooperation in human space exploration.
“We have an unbelievably large imbalance, as you know, trade imbalance with Japan for many, many years, Japan having the big advantage,” Trump said.
“They are brilliant business people, brilliant negotiators, and put us in a very tough spot. But I think we will have a deal with Japan,” he added.
Abe, for his part, said the two leaders had agreed to accelerate trade talks but dodged a question about timing.
Trump, who is on a four-day state visit to Japan meant to showcase the Japan-US alliance, said on Twitter on Sunday that he expected big moves on trade would wait until after Japan’s upper house election in July.
“Trade-wise, I think we’ll be announcing some things, probably in August, that will be very good for both countries,” Trump said on Monday at the start of the talks. “We’ll get the balance of trade, I think, straightened out rapidly.” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters there was no agreement to reach a trade deal by August.
While Abe and Trump have put their friendship on show, Trump has threatened to target Japanese automakers with high tariffs.
He has also spearheaded an expensive trade dispute with China. The trade war between the world’s two largest economies has hurt markets worldwide.
Trump told the news conference that Washington was not ready to make a deal with Beijing but he expected one in the future.
“You know businesses are leaving China, by the hundreds, by the thousands, and going into areas that are not tariffed.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in Beijing that China’s stance was consistent: disputes should be resolved through negotiations and China-US consultations “must be based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit”.