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Japan dismisses the idea of a two-way trade pact with the US, no matter what Trump wants

  • Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said Tuesday that Japan would not enter a bilateral free trade agreement with the United States to resolve the two countries' trade imbalance
  • His comments came a day after President Donald Trump, during his visit to Japan, bemoaned the trade imbalance
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walk past honor guards at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan on November 6, 2017
Kiyoshi Ota | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walk past honor guards at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan on November 6, 2017

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Tuesday that Japan would not enter a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States to resolve the two countries' trade imbalance.

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting, Aso said it was true that the United States was running a trade deficit but said the situation was different from that of the 1980s, when trade friction strained bilateral relations.

Aso's comments came a day after President Donald Trump, during his visit to Japan, bemoaned the trade imbalance and called for "free, fair, and reciprocal" trade.

In a second round of economic talks in Washington last month, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Aso, who doubles as deputy premier, failed to bridge differences on trade issues.

The two sides are at odds over how to frame future trade talks, with Tokyo pushing back against U.S. calls to discuss a bilateral FTA.