Japan looks to keep currency off agenda in trade talks with U.S.

By Mayumi Terashima / Yomiuri Shimbun CorrespondentWASHINGTON — Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi expressed reluctance Monday to discuss the introduction of a clause that would restrict currency devaluation in a bilateral trade agreement between Japan and the United States.

Regarding the United States’ indication of its desire to include such a clause, Motegi said, “We have agreed that currency will be discussed between our finance ministers.” Motegi made the remark at a press conference after the first round of new Japan-U.S. trade negotiations that began Monday afternoon in Washington, D.C.

The talks are scheduled to last for two days through Tuesday, and will focus on specifically narrowing down the areas to be negotiated. Regarding a currency clause, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday that currency was also on the agenda the United States envisioned.

At the Monday press conference, Motegi said, “We reconfirmed that we will move forward with the negotiations in keeping with the Japan-U.S. joint statement from last September.”

The statement stipulates that negotiations will begin with trade in goods such as agricultural products and automobiles and other key areas including services that can “produce early achievements.” Japan’s intention is to narrow the fields to be discussed as much as possible, focusing on goods.

Motegi said the first day’s talks, which lasted about three hours, focused on goods but that specific details would be made public after Tuesday afternoon’s discussions were concluded.Speech

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