Trump Says `Very Close’ to Japan Trade Deal Before Abe Meeting

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The U.S. is close to reaching some form of a trade deal with Japan, U.S. President Donald Trump said, as his trade chief hinted an announcement could come within hours.

“We’re very close to a major deal with Japan,” Trump said Sunday morning during a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Group of Seven summit, with Trump due to meet Japan’s Shinzo Abe later Sunday morning in France. “Prime Minister Abe and I are very good friends, really good friends. We’ve been working on it for five months.”

Japanese media have reported that the U.S. and Japan have agreed on a broad framework of a deal that will keep U.S. tariffs on Japanese cars in place while lowering tariffs to U.S. beef and pork sales to Japan. A draft agreement could be signed by the end of next month, the Nikkei reported.

The deal would not cut the current U.S. tariffs on Japanese vehicles, Japanese media reported, but could potentially defend the country against Trump’s threat of new auto tariffs.

At the breakfast with Johnson, Trump asked U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who also attended, to speak while reporters were gathered in the room. “I’m going to say: presumably something will be announced after we meet with the prime minister of Japan,” Lighthizer said.

Trump then reiterated that he was close to reaching what he described as a “very big deal” with Japan. “Frankly, I think what’s happening with China helps with respect to Japan. But it’s a very big deal. It will be one of the biggest deals we’ve ever made with Japan,” he said.

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