Trump urges Japan to bolster agriculture purchases as China trade talks flounder

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Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., on the U.S. trade tensions with China, the 2020 presidential race and the outlook for Federal Reserve policy.

President Donald Trump is reportedly urging Japan to increase its purchase of U.S. agricultural products, a request that comes as China halts it owns purchase of domestic farm goods amid an escalating trade dispute with the White House.

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Trump's ask of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, reported on Tuesday by Kyodo news agency, comes as the two nations seek to craft a broad agreement, reportedly by September. A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Among other grievances, Trump has raised concerns over the number of vehicles imported from Japan to the U.S., going so far as to threaten to impose a 25 percent tariff on the shipments. The White House is also reportedly pushing for the country to reduce existing duties on beef imports.

Trump and Abe are slated to meet at a United Nations summit next month.

While the U.S. seeks to broaden its agricultural partnership with Japan, relationships with China are increasingly souring.

The rising tensions -- which is evolving into a currency dispute as China tinkers with the reference rate for the yuan -- is undermining the relationship with one of the U.S.'s largest trading partners. The Asian nation imported $9.1 billion in farm goods in 2018, a 53 percent year-over-year decrease.

Beijing had previously promised to accelerate its purchase of key agriculture products like soybeans but failed to live up to the pledge, according to Trump.

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Meanwhile, Japan and South Korea are currently locked in their own trade and political dispute, one that Trump offered to mediate at the behest of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

“If they would both want me to, I'll be. It’s like a full-time job getting involved with Japan and South Korea. But I like both leaders,” he told reporters in July.

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