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Report: Japan skirts US demand for bilateral trade deal

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Report: Japan skirts US demand for bilateral trade deal

Tokyo has backed off from U.S. demands to negotiate a two-way trade deal during the second round of bilateral economic talks between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Japan's Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Reuters reported Oct. 17.

"Japan has no plan to open talks for a bilateral free trade agreement anytime soon," said a Japanese government official with knowledge of the negotiations.

But both parties agreed to continue to cooperate in reining-in Pyongyang's nuclear expansion.

The U.S. has said it would like a two-way trade deal with Japan to give it more access to Japanese markets and reduce its trade deficit but Japan fears that such a deal would pressure it to open up its farm produce markets, said Reuters.

Aso had hoped to defuse U.S. calls for a bilateral trade deal by cooperating on infrastructure and energy. During talks held Oct. 16, both parties agreed to boost cooperation in transportation, infrastructure development and finance, but gave no details, said Reuters.

Japan also agreed to streamline noise and emissions testing procedures for U.S. auto exports, while the two countries lifted trade restrictions on U.S. potatoes and Japanese persimmons.

There was no agreement on U.S. complaints about Japan's safeguard mechanism on U.S. frozen beef imports but "discussions are ongoing," the Japanese official said.

The date and venue for the next round of dialogue were not set, said the Reuters report.