Trump says US reaches trade deals with Japan, no vote needed

Reuters

Posted at Sep 17 2019 07:15 AM

Employees of a foreign exchange trading company in Tokyo, Japan, work next to monitors displaying Japan's Nikkei stock average and the Japanese yen's exchange rate against the US dollar as a television screen shows a broadcast from a meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, February 28, 2019. Issei Kato, Reuters/file

WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump said on Monday that the United States has reached initial trade agreements with Japan on tariff barriers and digital trade that will not require congressional approval.

In a letter to Congress released by the White House, Trump said that he intends to enter into the agreements "in the coming weeks" and was notifying lawmakers that the tariff deal would be made under a trade law provision allowing the US president to make reciprocal tariff reductions by proclamation.

"In addition, I also will be entering into an Executive Agreement with Japan regarding digital trade," Trump said in the letter.

Neither agreement would require a vote in Congress under the so-called "fast track" approval process. The Trump administration last year notified Congress that it would pursue negotiations with Japan under this method.

But over much of the past year, the scope of talks have narrowed to exclude the automotive sector, which is the source of most of the $67 billion US trade deficit with Japan.

Instead, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo in August announced an agreement in principle of a deal that covered reductions in tariffs on agricultural and industrial goods, but not autos.

The 2 leaders said at the G7 summit in France that they hoped to sign the agreement at next week's United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Trump's letter did not disclose any contents of the agreements, but Japan had previously said it was willing to consider a deal that would reduce agriculture tariffs to levels previously contemplated under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that Trump quit on his third day in office in 2017.

Trump's letter said that the United States would pursue further trade negotiations with Japan.

"My Administration looks forward to continued collaboration with the Congress on further negotiations with Japan to achieve a comprehensive trade agreement that results in more fair and reciprocal trade between the United States and Japan," Trump said.