USTR Lighthizer to meet Motegi for trade talks in Japan on May 24: sources

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testifies before House Ways and Means Committee hearing on “U.S.-China Trade” on Capitol Hill in Washington U.S., February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

TOKYO (Reuters) – U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will visit Japan on May 24 to meet Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi to accelerate trade talks ahead of a leaders’ summit a few days later, two sources with direct knowledge of the plan said on Monday.

After a late-April meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump had said it was possible for the two allies to reach a new bilateral trade deal by the time he visits Tokyo in late May.

Kenji Wakamiya, chairman of the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said he expected the United States would not be as tough on Japan as it had been on China, though adding it was not certain a deal could be reached this month.

On Friday, Trump angered foreign automakers including Toyota Motor Corp by declaring that some imported vehicles and parts posed a national security threat, while delaying a decision for as long as six months on whether to impose tariffs to allow more time for trade talks with the European Union and Japan.

The Trump administration could demand Japan set targets on U.S. production by Japanese carmakers, Wakamiya told a Reuters News seminar.

“Even if Trump tells us desirable outcomes for him, it would be difficult for the Japanese government to tell carmakers what they should do. They have their ideas and shareholders … So it won’t be easy. Still, a move in that direction is one possible solution,” he said.

Wakamiya also said that the U.S. black-listing of China’s technology giant, Huawei Technologies, would affect Japanese companies.

“I think the crackdown is likely to last long, probably as long as Trump is in the White House. There will be a considerable impact on Japan. Japanese companies which trade with Huawei should look for other customers,” he said.

Reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto; Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim and Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Chris Gallagher

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