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President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a session at the G-20 summit. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a session at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, June 28, 2019 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

With the Prospects Fading for a U.S.-China Trade Deal, Trump Turns to Japan

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Weeks after Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to a truce in the U.S.-China trade war on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, negotiations remain on pause, and speculation is growing that neither side is particularly eager for a deal. Last week, reports emerged that American and Japanese negotiators are intensifying efforts to strike a smaller trade deal that Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could sign during the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. The news hardly looks like a coincidence.

Trump is desperate for a trade deal that could provide some relief to American farmers hard hit by his protectionist policies. The U.S. farm lobby wields substantial influence in Washington, and that means its members are frequently in the bullseye when other countries retaliate during trade disputes. With China having become one of the largest markets for U.S. agricultural exports like soybeans, cotton and pork, the pain from this trade war is particularly intense for farmers. ...

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