US Vice President, Japan’s Leader Discusses Trade, North Korea

13 November, 2018

A United States official says a new trade agreement with Japan is the best way to deal with a trade imbalance between the two countries.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made the statement during a visit Tuesday to Tokyo. He spoke at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Pence pressed for a new U.S. trade deal with Japan.

"American products and services too often face barriers to compete fairly in Japanese markets," Pence said. He called on the two sides to negotiate a new trade deal that will be, in his words, a "model," for other nations.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration have criticized existing trade agreements with Japan and other allies. Trump has said these agreements are not fair or balanced. He also has said that he believes bilateral trade agreements are better for the United States.

Trump has expressed dissatisfaction with Japan's $69 billion trade surplus with the U.S. He accuses Japan of setting up barriers to imports of U.S. automobiles and agriculture.

Japanese officials say the country's markets are open; however, the Japanese government does protect some farm products.

The government has been unwilling to negotiate a bilateral ‘free trade' deal. It also has hoped that the United States would return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement with Japan and 10 other nations.

After speaking with reporters, both Pence and Abe traveled to Singapore for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

North Korea also discussed

During their Tokyo meeting, the two men talked about efforts to remove nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula. Pence praised Abe for providing leadership while working with U.S. and South Korean officials to make progress on the issue.

A Digital Globe satellite image taken March 29, 2018 shows what CSIS' Beyond Parallel project reports is an undeclared missile operating base at Sakkanmol, North Korea and provided to Reuters
A Digital Globe satellite image taken March 29, 2018 shows what CSIS' Beyond Parallel project reports is an undeclared missile operating base at Sakkanmol, North Korea and provided to Reuters

Last week, North Korea cancelled planned talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. However, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said those would likely take place at a later date. Haley also said she expects President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet early next year.

On Sunday, a U.S.-based research group said it had identified at least 13 North Korean missile bases that the North has yet to declare. The Center for Strategic and International Studies prepared a report on the missile sites. Its writer, Joseph Bermudez told VOA that the threat from North Korea's nuclear and missile programs "remains very significant and has not changed in the last ten years."

In Washington, Trump criticized a New York Times newspaper report on the findings.

"We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new – and nothing happening out of the normal," Trump wrote in a message on Twitter. He added, "I will be the first to let you know if things go bad."

ASEAN meetings

In Singapore, Pence was expected to talk about the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation. The new $60 billion effort supports private investments for transportation and other infrastructure projects around the world. It seeks to give nations choices for development financing and to compete with China's Belt and Road Initiative.

After the ASEAN meeting, Pence will travel to Papua New Guinea for a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation group.

I'm Mario Ritter.

Steve Miller reported this story for VOA News with information provided by Nike Ching, Ira Mellman and Lee Ju-hyun. Mario Ritter adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

bilateral – adj. involving two groups or countries

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section, and visit 51VOA.COM.