Japanese and American trade officials hoped to sign a small, limited trade deal as soon as this week during the United Nations General Assembly, but Reuters reports an agreement has been held up by Trump.
Japan is concerned -- as they should be -- that the current language of the agreement does not include language to guarantee that Trump won't impose tariffs on foreign cars and car parts which, as you may recall, was the whole reason for negotiating a deal in the first place.
Reuters reports that Japanese officials are now asking a clause that will void the deal if Trump imposes tariffs.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have been aiming to sign a trade deal at a meeting this week during the United Nations General Assembly in New York that provides increased access to Japan for U.S. agricultural goods and bilateral cuts in industrial goods tariffs.
But the limited trade deal is not expected to include changes to tariffs and trade rules governing autos, the biggest source of the $67.6 billion U.S. trade deficit with Japan.
The New York Times earlier reported that Japan was demanding a “sunset clause” that would cancel any trade benefits for the United States if Trump imposes the auto tariffs on Japanese vehicles.
Reading between the lines here, it appears to me that Trump wants to hoodwink Japan by securing benefits for specific a American constituency (farmers) while preserving leverage over the industry that actually contributes to the bulk of our trade deficit.
Japanese officials are doing their due diligence and not just relying the worthless words of Donald Trump. As an American, I wouldn't put it past him to impose tariffs on foreign cars and parts in an election year stunt if there's no binding language that would prevent it.