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U.S. and Japan Form Partnership on Trade

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and Japan’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economy, Trade and Industry announced the launch Wednesday of the U.S.-Japan Partnership on Trade.

The initiative reaffirms the shared commitment to strengthen the link between the two countries through regular engagement on trade-related matters of importance to both nations.

“This partnership will deepen the cooperation between the United States and Japan that has defined our strong bilateral trade relationship,” USTR Katherine Tai said. “Our close collaboration will support the Biden-Harris administration’s 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 initial areas of focus for cooperation will include issues such as third-country concerns, cooperation in regional and multilateral trade-related forums, addressing labor and environment-related priorities, a supportive digital ecosystem for all and trade facilitation.

It is expected that the first series of meetings under the Partnership on Trade will take place early in 2022. Periodic meetings will be held thereafter on a regular basis to advance a shared agenda of cooperation across a broad range of issues, as well as to address bilateral trade issues of concern to either side.

The partnership will be chaired by representatives of USTR for the United States and by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economy, Industry and Trade for Japan.

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For the 12 months through September, the U.S. imported $346.78 million worth of textiles and apparel from Japan, a 23.1 percent increase from the first nine months of 2020, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA). The vast majority of the goods imported was fabric.

In the same period, the U.S. exported $353.48 million worth of apparel and textiles to Japan, a 3.77 percent year-over-year decline, according to OTEXA.

In a separate development announced by USTR while Tai was on a diplomatic trip to Japan, she and Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. Hagiuda Koichi, and Valdis Dombrovskis, executive vice president of the European Commission, said they have agreed to renew their Trilateral partnership to address the global challenges posed by non-market policies and practices of third countries.

The Trilateral partners will recommence their work in the coming weeks, with the intention of meeting in person on the margins of the upcoming World Trade Oorganizaton Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.