US-Japan trade deal likely: Analyst

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The United States and Japan, which have been discussing a trade deal for a while, are likely to reach an agreement soon, said former Obama administration official Matthew Goodman.

“The US and Japan share most of the views on the rules of the international trading system, and so I don’t think there’s much disagreement on that. I think the real problem is on some of these longstanding market access issues,” said Goodman, now the Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., according to ABC Rural.

The US and Japan are the two largest economies involved in the trade talks currently being held in Singapore. Representatives of 11 countries have gathered in Singapore to try to hammer out agreement on a multilateral trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Experts say a possible deal between Washington and Tokyo will fast-track progress on the regional agreement.

Last month, US President Barack Obama and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe failed to reach a deal on agricultural tariffs during face to face meetings.

“Japan has a very protected agricultural market in particular, and I think the US sees TPP as an opportunity to really break through on those issues,” Goodman said.

He said securing agricultural tariff reductions on beef, dairy and pork are the priorities for the US.

The US will be looking for a better deal than Australia secured in its groundbreaking trade deal with Japan, which was agreed last month, he added.

“[That agreement] was significant. In that Australia has helped break the taboo of market protection in beef and other agricultural areas, and that’s very significant and creates an opportunity.

“On the other hand, [Australia] settled for fairly high tariffs in the 20 percent range on beef, which I think is still pretty high. I think the US is going to want to push harder to get those tariffs lowered further,” he said.

Even if an agreement is struck, it will need to be approved by the US Congress.

 

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