By YURI KAGEYAMA AP Business Writer
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Parliament on Wednesday approved a trade deal that was agreed upon by President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this year.
The deal cutting tariffs between the countries takes effect at the beginning of next year. It cleared Japan’s upper house Wednesday after clearing the more powerful lower house earlier.
Some critics say the deal is more advantageous to the U.S. since a 2.5% tariff on Japanese automobiles remains.
The deal will pave the way for cheaper American beef and other agricultural products in Japan.
Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, negotiated by the Obama administration.
U.S. farmers have felt they were at a disadvantage compared to Australian or Canadian counterparts.
Japan also reached a separate trade deal with Europe.
Japan, which imports U.S. farm products worth $14 billion, is America’s third-largest market.
The U.S. and Japan have agreed to continue talks on trade, and the auto tariffs are likely to come up in the talks.
The Japanese auto industry is a key part of this nation’s economy, although the manufacturers, such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., have moved production abroad to avert tariffs and become part of American business.
When the trade deal was reached in September, Trump said it means opening Japan’s market to about $7 billion in U.S. farm goods, with tariffs lowered or scrapped on American beef, pork, wheat, cheese, corn and wine.
Abe has called the deal a “win-win,” prompting criticism from the opposition. Japanese farmers form a large support base for Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Japan has long had protectionist policies on agricultural imports, especially rice.
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