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US to pursue further talks with Japan, China for better trade deals

This combined file photos shows, from left, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Kyodo)

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- The United States aims to further advance bilateral trade negotiations with Japan and China this year, building on the partial deals that have been reached with the two countries, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Friday.

    "Going forward, President (Donald) Trump will continue to rebalance America's relationship with its trading partners, aggressively enforce our trade laws, and take prompt action in response to unfair trade practices by other nations," the USTR said in an annual report on trade policy.

    The administration's goal includes working with Japan toward a "comprehensive agreement that promotes mutually beneficial, fair, and reciprocal trade," the report said. The deal is expected to address barriers to trade in services, investment and other issues.

    Last year, the United States and Japan reached a preliminary agreement granting greater market access to U.S. agricultural products while giving Japanese automakers respite from the threat of additional tariffs. The deal went into force on Jan. 1.

    On China, the report hailed the so-called phase one agreement that was concluded in December as "groundbreaking," saying it addresses U.S. concerns over intellectual property protection and prohibits China from forcing U.S. companies to turn over their technology as a condition for market access.

    But it noted that the Trump administration will pursue a phase two agreement with China that "continues to require structural reforms and other changes to China's economic and trade regime."

    The report said key issues to be dealt with include what it called China's extensive use of industrial subsidies and cyber theft.

    The U.S.-China phase one deal was reached following a tit-for-tat tariff war between the two economic giants that played out for more than a year.

    Under the deal, which took effect earlier in February, the United States alleviated some of its punitive tariffs imposed on Chinese goods. Beijing committed to make additional purchases of U.S. products, in a move that is expected to help reduce the chronic U.S. trade deficit.

    The report also said that the United States will continue to expand Trump's "America First" agenda, such as by pursuing new trade agreements with Britain, the European Union and Kenya.

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