September 25, 2018 / 2:27 AM / in a month

U.S., Japan push back trade talks to Tuesday

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and the United States will begin a second round of trade talks in New York on Tuesday, Japan’s top government spokesman said, amid concerns in Tokyo that Japan will face greater pressure to reduce its large trade surplus.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer gestures as he testifies before Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the proposed budget estimates and justification for FY2019 for the Office of the United States Trade Representative, at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, U.S., July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi had been scheduled to meet on Monday evening, ahead of a Wednesday summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of a U.N. General Assembly meeting.

Due to a scheduling issue, the U.S. side asked to delay the meeting, which is now scheduled for 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT) on Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Minister of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi attends a news conference on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting during APEC 2017 in Da Nang, Vietnam, November 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kham/File Photo

“We believe the talks will focus on further expanding trade and investment between Japan and the U.S. to bring benefits to both nations,” Suga said.

Lighthizer and Motegi met in August but failed to narrow differences on whether to open up negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement.

Abe, after a Sunday dinner with Trump, told reporters the two had constructive talks on trade, which Motegi and Lighthizer would continue.

Japan is hoping to avert any import curbs and potentially steeper U.S. import tariffs on its cars, and fend off U.S. demands for a free trade agreement.

Japanese media have said Tokyo is considering an agreement that would lower tariffs on U.S. agriculture imports in exchange for avoiding higher tariffs on Japanese autos.

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko, Yoshifumi Takemoto; Writing by William Mallard; Editing by Peter Cooney and Kim Coghill

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