USTR nominee sets Japan as primary target for farm exports


Robert Lighthizer gestures before a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be U.S. trade representative on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Tuesday.

Jiji PressWASHINGTON (Jiji Press) — U.S. Trade Representative nominee Robert Lighthizer said Tuesday that he would urge Japan to open its market wider to U.S. agricultural products through bilateral negotiations.

“I would list, of course, Japan as being a primary target for a place where increased access for agriculture is important,” Lighthizer said at his confirmation hearing at the Senate Finance Committee.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is highly likely to ask Japan to consider the possibility of concluding a bilateral free trade agreement when the two countries start a new economic dialogue in April, sources familiar with the situation said.

The Trump administration has been apparently seeking to conclude a bilateral pact with Japan since he pulled out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in January, the sources said.

Lighthizer said, “It’s clear that agriculture would have been a beneficiary of TPP.”

“And I think as we move forward and negotiate new agreements, we have to go to” countries involved in the TPP, he said.

He also said, “It is hard for me to understand why we tolerate so many barriers to agriculture trade.”

Among Trump administration officials, Peter Navarro, head of the National Trade Council, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have criticized Japan’s nontariff trade barriers while underlining the importance of bilateral trade agreements.

Lighthizer said, “I agree with President Trump that we should have an America first trade policy and that we can do better in negotiating our trade agreements and stronger in enforcing our trade laws.”Speech

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