Despite promises to do otherwise during the campaign and tough Trump trade talk during the trip, the U.S. Japan trade deficit will likely remain intact in the near future.
“Right now our trade with Japan is not fair and it isn’t open,” President Donald Trump told business leaders in Tokyo on Monday. President Trump has long bemoaned the fact that nations like Japan and China enjoy large trade surpluses over the U.S. Trump has blamed the deficit on unfair trade deals, while others point to the lack of attractive products being produced for export in the U.S.
The U.S. Japan trade deficit is the second-largest in the country, behind only China.
But the Trump trade plan did not yield any measurable results following his first official trip to the country. While trade was not publicly discussed, the president does not leave Japan having made any definitive progress on the deficit front, at least not yet.
To complicate the issue of trade between the two countries, Trump pulled out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact. The Japanese government had been part of the deal and backed it, despite controversy rising about the deal within its borders. Japanese officials also claim that the TPP would have helped achieve the Trump trade goal of narrowing the deficit.
As it stands, the TPP is still potentially going to be implemented, just without the U.S. involved.
The White House, meanwhile, is eager to find ways to increase its exports to Japan.
American livestock and agriculture were on offer, with an attempt to loosen barriers to exporting the goods to Japan. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso were conducting more extensive trade talks while Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were focused more on defense talks.
Pence wants Japan to cut its emergency import restrictions on U.S. frozen beef from 50% to 38.5%.
The White House is also seeking to expand its exports of liquefied natural gas to Japan.
The Trump administration is also keen on exporting more military equipment to Japan in order to help stymie North Korean militarism.
Trump went on to call Abe a “very tough negotiator,” concerning trade.
“One of the things I think is very important is the prime minister is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should,” Trump said. “It’s a lot of jobs for us and a lot of safety for Japan.”
“Trump Is Leaving Japan Empty-Handed on Trade,” Bloomberg, November 6, 2017.