Japan, U.S. to hold third economic dialogue mid-November: government officials

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands during a joint announcement at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/ Kiyoshi Ota/Pool

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and the United States will hold a third round of bilateral economic dialogue when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits Japan in mid-November, Japanese government officials said on Friday.

During his visit, Pence will hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his deputy, Taro Aso, on topics ranging from trade, economic policy and North Korea, the officials said on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak publicly.

His visit would come after the two countries kicked off bilateral trade talks in an arrangement that, for now, protects Japanese automakers from further tariffs, seen as a major threat to the export-dependent economy.

The trade talks are led by Japan’s Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who met in August to start what the two sides call “free, fair and reciprocal” negotiations.

The trade talks fall within broader bilateral economic discussions led by Pence and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who is also finance minister.

U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear he is unhappy with Japan’s $69 billion trade surplus with the United States and wants a bilateral free agreement.

But Tokyo has been wary as such an agreement would boost pressure to open sensitive markets such as agriculture.

Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto, writing by Leika Kihara; Editing by Michael Perry