September 22, 2018 / 1:35 PM / 25 days ago

Japan mulls bilateral trade deal with U.S.: Nikkei

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is mulling a bilateral trade agreement with the United States that would lower tariffs on U.S. agriculture imports in exchange for avoiding higher tariffs on Japanese autos, the Nikkei newspaper said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: A worker walks in a container area at a port in Tokyo, Japan January 25, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/File Photo

Japan’s government is considering lowering agricultural tariffs to levels the United States would have gotten had it remained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership multi-lateral trade pact, the Nikkei said, citing government sources.

Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will meet U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to hold talks on Sept. 24 to lay the groundwork for a meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump on Sept. 26.

Trump has made clear he is unhappy with Japan’s $69 billion trade surplus with the United States, nearly two-thirds from auto exports, and wants a two-way agreement to address it.

Japan is keen to avoid higher tariffs on autos, and wants to use its negotiations with the European Union for a free trade pact as a model for how it deals with the United States, the Nikkei said.

Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Tom Hogue

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