WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States may push for a quick trade deal with Japan to gain the same access to agricultural markets as some other Japanese trade partners, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday.
U.S. President Donald Trump has demanded terms of trade more favorable to the United States from top trade partners China, Japan and the European Union.
Trump said last week after one-to-one talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he hoped he could clinch a deal with Japan by the time he visits Tokyo in May.
Trump is unhappy with Japan’s trade surplus with the United States - much of it from auto exports - and wants a two-way agreement to address it.
He pressed Abe to have Japanese automakers produce more vehicles in the United States, according to a readout of their meeting provided by the U.S. ambassador to Japan on Saturday.
Perdue said a narrow deal could be expanded later into a more comprehensive trade agreement.
“We want a quick resolution of our agricultural request here ... maybe temporarily that could then be fleshed out over longer period,” Perdue told reporters.
He said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who heads trade negotiations, would prefer to get a deal sooner rather than later.
“...one that seals down the agricultural issues that we are concerned about. I think we can get that done quickly,” Perdue told reporters.
Perdue said U.S. farmers should get the same access to Japanese markets as countries that have signed up to the Pacific trade deal. Trump walked away from that deal early on in his presidency, claiming it was a bad deal for the U.S. economy and workers.
Other countries that stayed in the Pacific trade such as Canada have more access to the lucrative Japanese market.
During last week’s talks, Trump cited Japanese tariffs on American agricultural products as an irritant.
Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Simon Webb, Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman