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Japan, US, EU eye trade ministerial talks in late Sept.

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan, the United States and the European Union are making arrangements for a meeting of their trade ministers, possibly on Sept. 25 in New York, sources with knowledge of the matter said Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump has taken issue with his country's massive trade deficit with Japan and his administration is calling for a bilateral free trade agreement.

Japan, for its part, has been promoting a multilateral approach to trade such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade accord, wary of the U.S. push for an FTA.

Japan is expected to stress the importance of the framework for dialogue with the United States and the European Union that together represent more than half of the world's economy, according to the sources.

Japan and the European Union signed in July a free trade agreement, in a strong show of their resistance to trade restrictive measures such as higher tariffs on imports.

Tokyo and Washington have launched a new framework to discuss trade issues that are of mutual concern, led by Japan's economic revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The two countries are now arranging to hold the second round of the high-level trade dialogue on Sept. 21, before the envisaged three-party gathering.

Trade is also expected to be one of the agenda items when Trump likely meets with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly later this month.

Trump has apparently been stepping up pressure on Japan to take measures to realize what he sees as fair and reciprocal trade.

"If we don't make a deal with Japan, Japan knows it's a big problem for them," Trump said last Friday.

The prospect of the United States imposing higher tariffs on cars and auto parts to defend national security has already raised concern.

Securing an exemption from its longtime ally the United States is seen as a pressing challenge for Japan, which has major automakers. The 28-nation European Union is believed to have already secured one.

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