Japan, US to accelerate trade talks

Japan and the United States have agreed to speed up talks from early next month for a two-way trade agreement.

Japan and the United States have agreed to hold working-level meetings intensively from early next month to accelerate progress towards a two-way trade agreement.

The discussion between Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer comes after a meeting of the world's largest and third-biggest economies on the sidelines of a G20 summit of world leaders in Osaka, with trade issues high on the agenda.

The prospects for a two-way deal raise fears that Japan may cave into pressure from the United States to open up its highly-protected agriculture markets, such as beef and rice.

"We share understanding of each other's thinking and stance and where our gap lies. Based on that, we are discussing ways to narrow our differences," Motegi told reporters, without elaborating.

Analysts widely expect the two sides will be unlikely to strike a deal at least until after Japan's upper house election next month, since farmers are a key pillar of support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

US President Donald Trump has vowed to resolve what he calls unfair trade imbalances with trading partners, under his "America First" protectionism agenda.

To achieve this, Trump has also threatened to slap higher tariffs on car imports, including those from Japan, which he said could threaten the US national security.

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