Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is bringing a focused message to Washington next month about the importance of strengthening trade and defense ties with the U.S. in the face of China’s rise in the Pacific.
House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said Thursday he had invited Mr. Abe to address a joint meeting of both chambers of Congress on April 29, a first for a Japanese leader. The White House said Mr. Abe’s official visit will include a State Dinner on April 28.
The visit comes as Japanese and U.S. officials are seeking this week to hammer out details of a bilateral trade deal between the countries that would serve as the keystone of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which could emerge as early as May. Trade officials are working on lifting barriers to auto trade between the two countries and opening up Japan’s agricultural industry, part of Mr. Abe’s structural reforms to boost the world’s third-biggest economy.
President Barack Obama has billed the TPP, which doesn’t include China, as a way to ensure the U.S. and likeminded countries write the commercial rules of the road for fast-growing Asian economies. The 12-country bloc would be the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s rebalancing of foreign policy to Asia.
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