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Japan, U.S. Scurry to Clarify Trade “Deal”

Trade negotiators are scrambling to deliver at least the broad strokes of a trade pact that President Donald Trump hopes to sign with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe late this month.

Trade negotiators are scrambling to deliver at least the broad strokes of a trade pact that President Donald Trump hopes to sign with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe late this month.

Trump proclaimed at last month’s Group of Seven meeting in France that the two leaders would sign a “great deal” on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. But sources tell Bloomberg News that Trump’s impromptu press conference to announce the deal caught Japanese officials by surprise.

Japan’s biggest request is that any deal formally stipulates that cars it ships to the U.S. won’t be subject to new tariffs. But its negotiators still aren’t sure about Trump’s position on that point.

When he announced the impending trade deal on Aug. 25, Trump indicated he was suspending his threat to hike U.S. tariffs on vehicles from Japan to 25% from the current 2.5%. But Trump added, “It’s something I could do at a later date If I wanted to.”

Bloomberg’s sources say it’s highly unlikely that negotiators will be able to finalize a detailed agreement in time for the ceremonial endorsement Trump hopes to make a few weeks from now.

The sources are more optimistic about completing a conceptual agreement for that event. They say a second phase of talks to construct a more specific pact isn’t likely to begin for many weeks.

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