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High-level Japan-US trade talks to be launched on Aug. 9

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (AP)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan and the United States are making arrangements to hold the first round of a high-level dialogue on trade on Aug. 9 in Washington, a state minister said Tuesday.

The new framework will be headed by Japan's economy revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The dialogue comes as the threat of higher auto tariffs imposed by the United States has raised concerns about global trade and the economy.

"I want us to have a constructive discussion," Motegi said at a press conference.

Motegi added he hopes to discuss not just bilateral issues but also how Japan and the United States can contribute to the development of the Asia-Pacific region.

It had been thought that Japan and the United States would hold the talks, aimed at discussing ways to achieve fair and reciprocal trade, in July. But Lighthizer said last week they would be held within "30 days."

Japanese officials are wary of the potential U.S. push for a bilateral free trade agreement as Lighthizer, speaking at a Senate hearing, expressed eagerness to strike an FTA and complained about his country's chronic trade deficit with Japan.

For Japan, promoting the benefits of multilateral free trade arrangements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is a priority. Tokyo hopes the United States, which has withdrawn from the TPP framework, will eventually return to it.

"It's necessary to have ministerial talks especially when there are differences," Motegi said, adding he will work toward bridging trade policy gaps between Japan and the United States.

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