Pence in Japan, turning focus to trade

2017-04-18 09:28
US Vice President Mike Pence with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. (Eugene Hoshiko, Pool, AP)

US Vice President Mike Pence with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. (Eugene Hoshiko, Pool, AP)

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Tokyo - US Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Japan for talks on Tuesday expected to focus largely on trade with America's anchor ally in the region.

Concluding a visit to South Korea, Pence told business leaders in Seoul the administration is taking a fresh look at trade agreements as part of its "America First" policy.

"We're reviewing all of our trade agreements across the world to ensure that they benefit our economy as much as they benefit our trading partners," Pence told the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea.

White House officials said the economic meetings in Tokyo, with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and other officials, are meant to forge a framework for future discussions after the US withdrew from a Pacific Rim trade pact.

They will serve as the kickoff to the US-Japan economic dialogue that was announced by President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in February.

While Japan's trade surplus with the US is much smaller than China's, Trump has decried the imbalance, especially in auto exports.

Both sides said they do not expect the talks in Tokyo this week to delve into sector-by-sector talks on trade. With no US Trade Representative yet in office and other key negotiator positions still unfilled, such nitty-gritty discussions will have to come later.

But the meetings could indicate how forcefully the US will pressure Japan to further open its farm and automotive sectors.

Before Pence's arrival, Aso told reporters the talks were meant to provide, "not friction, but co-operation."

Read more on:    mike pence  |  us  |  japan

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