Background

The U.S. and Japan announced Nov. 17 a new partnership on trade that will facilitate regular engagement on trade-related matters of importance to both countries, according to a press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The announcement followed recent visits to Tokyo by USTR Katherine Tai and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo aiming to bolster bilateral trade ties amid efforts by China to strengthen its own economic hand in the region. It also builds on agreements the two sides concluded two years ago on trade in agricultural, industrial, and digital goods.

According to USTR, the initial areas of focus under the new partnership will include global excess capacity in the steel and aluminum sectors, cooperation in regional and multilateral trade-related fora, labor and environment-related priorities, a supportive digital ecosystem for all, trade facilitation, and supply chain issues. Tai added that the partnership will also support the “development of an economic framework for the Indo-Pacific and help create sustainable, resilient, inclusive, and competitive trade policies that lift up our people and economies.” The first series of meetings is anticipated in early 2022 and periodic meetings will be held thereafter on a regular basis.

The U.S. and Japan also recently announced (1) the launch of a commercial and industrial partnership expected to focus on supply chains, export controls, and other issues, and (2) that they will hold talks on possibly lifting the U.S.’ Section 232 tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum products from Japan, as was recently done with the European Union.

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