Japan wants better access to US in return for free trade deal



Robin Harding | The Financial Times

Japan has fired a warning shot at the Trump administration ahead of the first round of trade talks next week, insisting the US will have to offer better access for Japanese goods if it wants to secure a free trade deal.

An agreement that does not include concessions to Japan would be illegal under World Trade Organization rules and stands no chance of ratification by Japan’s Diet, according to a senior trade official directly involved in preparations for the talks.

The comments highlight how hard it would be to reach a deal that is acceptable to Japan and also satisfies US president Donald Trump’s demands for gains on both agriculture and automobiles. 

The official said an agreement without significant concessions from the US would violate the WTO’s Article 24, which requires free trade deals to cover “substantially all” trade between two countries and it would be “impossible to bring it to the Diet”.

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