Watch: President Trump and Prime Minister Abe Announce Major Trade Deal [Video + Transcript]
President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan together announced a significant trade deal between the two countries.
The trade deal focuses on agricultural products, industrial goods, and digital trade.
“This will open up markets to $7 billion dollars of those goods,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said during the announcement. “We sell over 2 billion dollars worth of beef to Japan and this will allow us to do so with lower tariffs and to compete more effectively with people across the board.”
President Trump pointed out how the new trade agreement will help American farmers hurt when China broke its promise to buy their products.
“We have excess corn in various parts of our country with our farmers because China did not do what they said they were going to do. And Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on behalf of Japan, they’re going to be buying all of that corn,” Trump said.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: So, thank you very much. We’ve been working on a deal with Japan for a long time. It involves agricultural and it involves e-commerce and many other things. It’s a very big transaction, and we’ve agreed in principle. It’s billions and billions of dollars. Tremendous for the farmers.
And one of the things that Prime Minister Abe has also agreed to is we have excess corn in various parts of our country, with our farmers, because China did not do what they said they were going to do. And Prime Minister Abe, on behalf of Japan, they’re going to be buying all of that corn. And that’s a very big transaction. They’re going to be buying it from our farmers.
So the deal is done in principle. We probably will be signing it around UNGA. It will be around the date of UNGA, which we all look forward to. And we’re very far down the line. We’ve agreed to every point, and now we’re papering it and we’ll be signing it at a formal ceremony.
And I just want to thank Prime Minister Abe and the Japanese people. You’ve been a fantastic friend, and we very much appreciate it. This is a tremendous deal for the United States. It’s a, really, tremendous deal for our farmers and agricultural ranchers, and also involves other things, including, as I said, e-commerce.
So, it’s very big and we look forward to it. And thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) With regard to the Japan-U.S. trade agreement, a series of intensive negotiations have been conducted between Minister Motegi and Ambassador Lighthizer in line with the Japan-U.S. joint statements on September 26 of last year.
And by now, how we successfully reached consensus with regard to the core elements of both the agricultural and industrial products of our bilateral consultations on August the 23rd. And I certainly welcome this development.
And now, as Mr. President pointed out, next month, at the end of September, both of us are going to attend the U.N. General Assembly. And, on that occasion, I do think that we’ll have the bilateral summit meeting. So we certainly have — we would like to set the goal of signing this Japan-U.S. trade agreement, seizing that opportunity.
We still have some remaining work that has to be done at the working level, namely finalizing the wording of the trade agreement and also finalizing the content of the agreement itself. But we would like to make sure that our teams would accelerate the remaining work for us to achieve this goal of realizing the signing of the agreement on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly at the end of September.
And I’m very happy that both of our teams have been working on the specific issue in a win-win manner, bringing both the benefits to Japan and the United States. And if we are to see the entry into force of this trade agreement, I’m quite sure that there will be the immense positive impact on both the Japanese as well as American economies.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Perhaps you may want to discuss the additional purchase of all of that corn, because we have a tremendous amount right now. And we’ve been working with the farmers and making very, very large payments for the unfair way they were treated by China.
And the farmers are very happy. They like — they like their President. They’re very happy. But I think it’s even better, and I think they’re even happier, when they hear you’re actually buying their products.
So perhaps you could say a couple of words just about the hundreds of millions of dollars of corn — existing corn — that’s there, that you’ll be buying.
PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) So with regard to the potential purchase of American corn, in Japan we are now experiencing inspect pest on some of the agricultural products. And there is a need for us to buy certain amount of agricultural products. And this will be done by the Japanese private sector. That means that Japanese corporations will need to buy additional agricultural products.
And we believe that there is a need for us to implement emergency support measures for the Japanese private sector to have the early purchase of the American corn.
Of course, there is something that is already a shared understanding between — by the Japanese public, Japanese private sector, as well. So that’s why, against such backdrop, I do think that there is a possibility for us to cooperate to address this issue.
And with regard to further details, I would like to continue discussing with you, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: And the Japanese private sector listens to the Japanese public sector very strongly. I’m not sure. It’s a little different than it is in our country perhaps. But they are — they have great respect for the public sector. So when I hear the private sector has agreed to this, we’re very happy about that.
And I’d just like to ask, perhaps, Bob, and your counterpart, if you’d like to say a few words.
AMBASSADOR LIGHTHIZER: Great. Thank you, Mr. President and Prime Minister, and Minister Motegi.
Well, first of all, what we have is an agreement on core principles. It has three parts: agriculture, industrial tariffs, and digital trade. And from our point of view, it is extremely important to our farmers and ranchers and those people who work in the digital space.
We’ll get into the details at another time, but generally, Japanese is our third-largest agricultural market. They import about $14 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products. And this will open up markets to over $7 billion of those products.
In the agriculture area, it will be a major benefit for beef, pork, wheat, dairy products, wine, ethanol, and a variety of other products.
It will lead to substantial reductions in tariffs and non-tariff barriers across the board. And I’ll just give you one example: Japan is, by far, our biggest beef market. We sell over $2 billion worth of beef to Japan. And this allow us to do with lower tariffs and to compete more effectively with people across the board, particularly the TPP countries and Europe.
So it’s very good news for our farmers and ranchers, but it’s also good news for those who work in the digital e-commerce space where it is the gold standard of an international agreement. This is an area that not only has been important to the President but been of particular importance to the Prime Minister.
So we’re very excited about this agreement. We look forward to finishing the additional work and having it be implemented as soon as possible in Japan and the United States.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Would you like to say something?
MINISTER MOTEGI: Thank you very much —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you.
MINISTER MOTEGI: — Mr. President and Prime Minister Abe.
(As interpreted.) As the Prime Minister mentioned, based on the Japan-U.S. joint statement released by the two leaders on the 26th of September last year, myself and Ambassador Lighthizer had a series of ministerial negotiation on the Japan-U.S. trade agreement.
As we all know, the United States is the largest economy in the world, whereas Japan is also ranked third in terms of the total GDP. And also, among the (inaudible) economies, we are the very first and the second largest economies. And with this milestone of achievements we now have the full concurrence on various issues covering the agricultural, as well as industrial products, and also the digital and e-commerce. And the significance of this achievement cannot be over-emphasized. And I’m very happy to share this important achievement with you.
And on this occasion, myself and Ambassador Lighthizer had a chance to present what we have agreed at the ministerial level, and we successfully both obtained endorsement from President Trump and also Prime Minister Abe.
So the key mission for both myself and Ambassador Lighthizer is to complete the remaining work as soon as possible. Of course, I have my own team, which will focus on completing the remaining work. And I certainly hope that by working hand-in-hand between myself and Ambassador Lighthizer, and also between the Japanese and American teams, we will like to complete the remaining work as soon as possible.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Q Mr. President?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes. Go ahead.
Q Will the auto tariffs remain in place? The U.S. tariffs on autos.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Are you talking about with regard to China?
Q Yeah. With regard to Japan.
AMBASSADOR LIGHTHIZER: Well, there are a series — pardon me. There are a series of industrial tariffs that are being reduced. Auto tariffs are not in that group.
Q So they remain?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It depends. Are you talking about Japan or are you talking China? China is a very different situation.
Q Well, I’d love to hear your answer to both.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I can tell you — I mean, on China, they remain. On Japan, they stay the same. They’re staying the same.
This is a massive purchase of wheat also, in addition to everything else. This is a very large purchase of wheat, and the very, very large order of corn will go quickly. But importantly, it’s something that wasn’t in the agreement that we may not even — we may do that as a supplementary agreement. But we appreciate that very much. We just agreed to that on the other idea of the door.
So I just appreciate that very much. And we’ll do a great job. And the farmers are very thankful. Thank you very much.
Q Mr. President, on a separate issue, there are reports that the Iranian Foreign Minister is coming to Biarritz. Can you confirm that? Or do you plan to meet with him?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No comment.
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