President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Feb. 10 that their nations will discuss a framework for deepening trade and investment relations but stopped short of mentioning a bilateral free trade agreement. The two leaders also said they will “engage in an economic dialogue to discuss these and other issues” but gave no further details.

In a joint statement after a meeting in Washington, D.C., the two leaders said they “remain fully committed to strengthening the economic relationships between their two countries and across the [Asia-Pacific] region based on rules for free and fair trade.” They also vowed to continue efforts to promote trade, economic growth, and high standards throughout the region and to explore how best to accomplish these shared objectives.

While the statement pledged discussion of a bilateral framework (an effort to be led by Vice President Mike Pence and Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso) it also acknowledged that Japan will continue to “advance regional progress on the basis of existing initiatives.” This could include the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump withdrew the U.S. from last month, or the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in which Japan is negotiating with China, India, and more than a dozen other countries.

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