Japan 'increasingly cautious about trade links with the US'

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A new report has highlighted the cautious approach Japan is taking to future trade agreements with the US due to President Donald Trump's economic policies.

Japan's government is becoming increasingly cautious about pursuing new trade deals with the US due to the protectionist agenda of President Donald Trump, according to a report.

More than a half a dozen senior Japanese officials have spoken to Politico to express unease about the idea of signing a new bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with the US following President Trump's decision earlier this year to end the country's involvement with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Japan has been among the biggest supporters of the TPP, a 12-nation FTA spearheaded by the US under former president Barack Obama that was set to be the largest trade deal in history. The aim of the multinational agreement was to foster equitable trading conditions on a broad regional basis and to counter China's influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

As such, Japanese ministers have expressed considerable disappointment at the new administration's decision to rescind support for the deal, with one senior official describing the US withdrawal from TPP as "very wrong", saying it has "diminished many of the things that the US has achieved in the region".

The fallout from this move and the broader protectionist approach that Mr Trump has adopted since taking office have led Japan to shift its focus to trade deals with US competitors, including the finalization of a new FTA with the EU earlier this year, as well as its ongoing efforts to revive TPP with the remaining 11 members of the bloc.

Another former Japanese cabinet official added: "In the conduct of our affairs with the US, we need to have leverage. In order for us to convince the US, we need to have our own leverage, and our own leverage needs to be free trade agreements [with US competitors]."