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Trump prods Abe to address U.S.-Japan trade imbalance

U.S. President Donald Trump urged Japan on Saturday to further
open its market to American exports as part of an effort to address
the trade imbalance.

During talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of
the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Trump raised the issue of
the U.S. deficit with Japan and the importance of ensuring "mutual
market access" between the two countries, according to a senior
Japanese official.

The official declined to provide details about Trump's remarks.
But the businessman-turned-president, who advocates "fair" trade, may
have accused Japan of maintaining nontariff barriers for its
automobile market, while criticizing high import tariffs for foreign
agricultural products.

Trump, meanwhile, did not allude to the possibility of a free
trade agreement between the two countries, the official said.

Japan has been cautious about a Japan-U.S. FTA because it could
prompt the Trump administration to step up market-opening pressure on
Tokyo, especially in the politically sensitive agriculture sector and
auto trade.

Abe said Japan hopes to conduct "constructive" discussions on
Japan-U.S. economic relations during a second round of the high-level
bilateral economic dialogue slated for later this year.

The dialogue was launched by Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro
Aso and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in April.

The United States sees economic relations with Japan as
increasingly important, especially after Trump pulled Washington out
of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal in late January.

As of last year, the United States had a $347 billion trade
deficit with China, followed by a $69 billion deficit with Japan, $65
billion deficit with Germany and $63 billion deficit with Mexico.

Last month, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer demanded
that Japan make "unilateral concessions" on U.S. beef imports as a
way of reducing its trade surplus with the United States.

During Saturday's talks, Abe and Trump reaffirmed close
coordination in reining in North Korea's nuclear ambitions, according
to the Japanese official.
Abe called for ramping up international pressure on North Korea,
while Trump said Pyongyang's nuclear and missile program development
poses a major threat.

Trump welcomed efforts by Japan and China to build "stable"
relations, saying such a relationship between Asia's two largest
economies contributes to peace and stability of the region.

Abe said he looks forward to a visit to Japan by Trump possibly
in November. Trump said he is also excited about visiting Japan at an
early date, according to the official.

It was the third Abe-Trump meeting since the Republican
president took office in January. They last met on the fringes of a
summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations in Italy in May.
(July 8)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump hold talks in Hamburg, Germany, on July 8, 2017, on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit meeting. (Kyodo)