Trump, Abe meet to discuss bilateral Free Trade Agreement

along the lines of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hatch’s recommendation.

Senator Hatch said the Trans-Pacific Partnership can be ratified under President Trump even if it begins as a bilateral deal with Japan, emphasizing that his plan would be in accord with Trump’s pledge to pursue fair, bilateral trade deals instead of larger regional ones.

“I think if we could sign up with Japan we’d get a lot of other countries too,” he said. “I mean the real problem here has been Australia and they’ve acted reprehensibly in my eyes, although I’m sure they feel that from their standpoint they’re doing what’s right.”

Asked how he plans to persuade Trump to reconsider his stance on the Asia-Pacific deal, Hatch said, “well, I’m fairly persuasive sometimes.”

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Relief in Japan After Shinzo Abe’s Visit With Trump, NY Times, Feb 13, 2017

in a Kyodo News poll taken after the meeting, 70 percent of the Japanese public said they were satisfied with the talks between the two leaders, and Mr. Abe’s approval ratings rose slightly from a month earlier to close to 62 percent.

“In a basic sense, Prime Minister Abe got almost everything he wanted,” said Fumiaki Kubo, a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo. Mr. Trump’s statements in a joint news conference with Mr. Abe were “totally different from what he has been saying about Japan since the 1980s,” Mr. Kubo said. “That is surprising as well as remarkable. In a sense he showed us, including the American public, that he is capable of changing his position on such an important issue as Japan.”

Mr. Trump, who as a candidate and president-elect assailed Japan as one of the countries that “do not pay us’’ for defense and repeatedly called for an “America First” economy, ended up thanking the people of Japan for hosting United States troops and called for a trading relationship “that is free, fair and reciprocal, benefiting both of our countries.”

Perhaps most significant to the Japanese, Mr. Trump promised that the United States was “committed to the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control,” a reference to the American guarantee to defend Japan in any confrontation with China over disputed islands, known in Japan as the Senkaku and in China as the Diaoyu, in the East China Sea.

The remarks drew swift criticism from China, where an editorial in the overseas edition of People’s Daily, an official newspaper of the Communist Party, said Mr. Abe had made a “fetish” of Japan’s alliance with the United States.

In Welcoming Shinzo Abe, Trump Affirms U.S. Commitment to Defending Japan, NY Times, Feb 10, 2017

“The bond between our two nations and the friendship between our two peoples runs very, very deep,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference with Mr. Abe, reading from a prepared text. “This administration is committed to bringing those ties even closer. We are committed to the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control and to further strengthening our very crucial alliance.”

Among the topics of discussion during Mr. Abe’s weekend visit will be whether, and how, to pursue a bilateral trade agreement between the United States and Japan after Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping trade deal between the United States and 11 nations that included Japan.



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