Business, GOP lawmakers back US-Japan trade deal

Business, GOP lawmakers back US-Japan trade deal
© Getty Images

U.S. businesses and top Republicans on Capitol Hill expressed support for the U.S. and Japan to negotiate a bilateral trade agreement.

President TrumpDonald TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday agreed to starting formal trade negotiations after a meeting at the United Nations, which if successful would be a major trade achievement for the administration.

ADVERTISEMENT

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association were among the business groups that said a trade deal with the world's third largest economy would secure better market access for U.S. firms.

"As the world’s third largest economy, Japan is one of the most important export markets for American goods and services," said David Gossack, vice president for Asia and U.S.-Japan Business Council president at the U.S. Chamber.

"These new discussions should help put U.S. businesses on a level playing with our foreign competitors and address longstanding issues between our two nations," he said.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Kevin Kester called the decision "exciting news" for U.S. beef producers. Japan is beef's top export market, accounting for nearly $1.9 billion in U.S. beef sales in 2017.

"Unfortunately, U.S. beef faces a massive 38.5 percent tariff in Japan — a trade barrier that hurts America’s beef producers and Japanese consumers," Kester said. 

U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerBob LighthizerBiden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Whiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' MORE said he will soon notify Congress about the negotiations to reach a bilateral agreement.

Japan was part of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was signed in early 2016 but never ratified by the United States. 

The 11 remaining nations in the TPP went on to reach an agreement without the United States.

Lighthizer said that the U.S. still has no plans to rejoin the trade agreement, which Trump left his first month in office.

"There's this issue of the TPP and whether the U.S. would rejoin the TPP," Lighthizer said on a media call.  

"And the President is not going to join the TPP. But this is a very important step, in terms of expanding our relationship with Japan."

Lighthizer was on Capitol Hill on Thursday to discuss trade with the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees. 

Abe has been opposed to a bilateral deal. But he recently won reelection for three more years, and Trump doesn't want to rejoin TPP. He was expected to talk to Trump about rejoining the TPP during private meetings.

He said Trump promised that Japan would not be subject to auto tariffs while negotiations are ongoing. 

There is no timeline for when the talks will start, Lighthizer said. 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyRepublicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change GOP, business groups snipe at Biden restaurant remarks Top Democrat offers bill to overhaul tax break for business owners MORE (R-Texas) said he "enthusiastically" welcomed the announcement.

"I have been pushing for such negotiations for some time because an agreement with Japan would expand our ability to sell American goods and services, establish ambitious new rules and resolve bilateral issues," Brady said.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchCongress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears The national action imperative to achieve 30 by 30 MORE (R-Utah) said that as one of the world's largest economies and the fourth largest trading partner of the U.S. "a trade agreement with Japan has the potential to open more markets for U.S. goods and services, which will help American producers expand operations and lower prices at home."