September 25, 2018 / 3:21 PM / 2 months ago

Japan-U.S. shared broad understanding over trade: Japan economy minister

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

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and the United States have reached a broad understanding over how to promote bilateral trade and may announce specifics on Wednesday, Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was quoted as saying after meeting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Speaking to reporters in New York after his second round of trade talks with Lighthizer, Motegi said he hoped to give more details after a scheduled summit of the two countries’ leaders on Wednesday in New York, Kyodo News reported.

“We were able to reach a common understanding over the broad direction that things should go in,” he said, according to Kyodo. He declined to elaborate, including whether the United States would agree not to pursue any further tariffs on autos.

The top trade representatives’ meeting on Tuesday followed their last one in August, where the two sides failed to narrow their differences on whether to open up negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).

U.S. President Donald Trump has made clear he is unhappy with Japan’s $69 billion trade surplus with the United States - nearly two-thirds of it from auto exports - and wants a two-way agreement to address it.

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are scheduled to hold talks on Wednesday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

The threat of trade friction between Tokyo and Washington has been present since Trump took office last year with a pledge to renegotiate trade deals he considers unfair to U.S. companies and workers.

Japanese government officials are increasingly worried that Trump will demand a reduction in the number of Japanese auto imports to lower the trade deficit.

They also fret that Trump could impose steep import tariffs on auto and auto parts, which would deal a big blow to the export-reliant economy.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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