Grassley Says Trade Deals Top of Mind With Ag Community

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Those talks will be led by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who are scheduled to discuss infrastructure investment, trade rules and macroeconomic policy.

In an apparent shift, Tokyo plans to push forward talks for activating the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement without the United States, which withdrew from the multination trade pact in January after President Donald Trump said he would instead pursue bilateral trade deals, a government source said.

The White House hopes the talks in Tokyo will open doors in Japan for US -made products and attract Japanese investment for infrastructure projects in the United States.

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Tokyo sees the TPP, which would have covered 40% of all global trade, as a "gold standard" of trade deals, given its inclusion of provisions not usually found in most trade deals, such as labor standards and governance and transparency standards.

"The loss of USA participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership was a blow to Japan following strenuous negotiations, especially over opening its long-protected farm sector to more imports, especially of dairy and meat products". Japan is now working to resurrect the pact with just 11 members, local media reported yesterday.

"Businesses that participated in the committee's study believed that the TPP would increase their ability to trade with certain countries in the Asia-Pacific region with which Canada does not already have an FTA [free trade agreement], most notably Japan", the report said.

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On Saturday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga indicated Tokyo's readiness to proceed with TPP implementation while ensuring U.S. understanding, saying in an interview with Kyodo News, "We have a feeling that the 11-nation framework should be given weight".

Singapore said they will still be on board if consensus can be reached among all 11 parties.

The 11 nations are expected to start discussing the issue at a meeting of their chief negotiators in Canada in early May, and at a meeting of their trade ministers in Vietnam late next month on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) gathering.

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The US wants to focus on bilateral trade but Japan is said to be reluctant due to concern that it will be pressured to open up its farming and auto sectors. Also on the table are intellectual property rights and easing of regulations for foreign firms entering the financial and retail sectors.

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