Agriculture Secretary Urges Japan to Reach Trade Deal with U.S.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urged Japan on Monday to move swiftly to clinch a trade deal with Washington on farm products and other goods, in a way that would treat his country fairly as “premier customer.”

“President Trump is really looking forward to a deal sooner rather than later. He would welcome an agreement,” Perdue told reporters, when asked about a possibility of a trade deal when Trump meets Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan later this month, Reuters reported.

Perdue said details of negotiations such as the degree and timing of a trade deal are being left to top negotiators of both countries – Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

“We are very much aware of the elections of the upper body (of Japan’s parliament) coming up in July. We are respectful of that, but President Trump is expecting again Japan would treat us as their premier customer as we are,” Perdue said.

President Donald Trump, who hosted Abe at the White House last month, had said he hoped to clinch a final deal with Japan in time for his visit to Tokyo on May 25-28.

Trade talks are part of Trump’s efforts to make good on his calls for better agreements with its top trading partners – Japan, China and the European Union. Perdue earlier this month said U.S. officials may seek a quick, narrow pact with Japan, Reuters adds.

He spoke to reporters on Monday at a roundtable after he participated in a weekend meeting of G20 agriculture ministers.

The U.S. raised tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent on Friday as it negotiated with China for a deal to fix what it sees as unfair trade imbalance.

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