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Trump says US, Japan have agreed 'in principle' to bilateral trade deal
President Trump said Sunday that the U.S. and Japan have agreed "in principle" to a bilateral trade deal involving agriculture and digital products.
Trump told reporters during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit that he expected the two countries to officially sign the pact during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September.
"We have been working on a deal with Japan for a long time," Trump said. "It involves agriculture. It involves e-commerce. It involves many things. We've agreed in principle."
"We've agreed to every point, and now we're papering it and we'll be signing it at a formal ceremony," Trump said, adding that the Japanese will be buying significant amounts of U.S. corn.
The deal focuses on agriculture, industrial tariffs and digital trade, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said. It will open up markets to an additional $7 billion in agricultural products, he said, calling it "very good news" for American farmers and ranchers.
Abe said the two sides had agreed on the "core principles" but that some specific language in the deal still needs to be worked out. He said Japan has a need for corn imports because of pest problems with some Japanese-grown products.
"We still have some work that needs to be done ... but we would like to make sure that our teams would accelerate the remaining work so as to achieve the goal of signing this agreement on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September," Abe said through an interpreter.
The two sides have been in negotiations for months brokering a bilateral trade deal. The Trump administration has been seeking access to the Japanese agricultural sector, and the president had threatened on multiple occasions to impose tariffs on Japanese automobiles if they were unable to come to an agreement.
Abe has sought to build a strong personal relationship with the mercurial Trump, visiting him at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and inviting the president and first lady for a state visit earlier this year.
Trump earlier Sunday met with Abe in a planned meeting, where the president teased the possibility of a trade deal emerging by the end of the discussion. The two leaders met again a second time to announce the tentative deal.
Once finalized, the Japan deal would mark a win for Trump, who has spent much of his presidency promising to secure stronger trade agreements for the U.S. But he has struggled to get Congress to take up his renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and he has ratcheted up the trade war with China with few signs of a resolution in sight.
The president on Sunday signaled he was having second thoughts about raising tariffs on Chinese products in the latest escalation with Beijing, but the White House issued a statement hours later asserting Trump meant his regret was not increasing tariffs more.
Updated at 9:46 a.m.