The US vice president, Mike Pence, said today that the future trade pact that the United States and Japan plan to negotiate will be "a model" for the Indian and Pacific region, during the beginning of his tour of this geographical area.
The number two of the White House alluded to the trade negotiations that will start from January Tokyo and Washington, after meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, in what is the first stop of his trip to Asia and Oceania.
Abe and Pence highlighted the "strength" of trade and defense links, although they also highlighted the differences between the two countries when it comes to addressing economic cooperation, during a joint statement to the media.
The US vice president thanked Abe "for his commitment to maintain Japanese investments in the US that represent an important economic contribution and for the creation of employment", although he pointed out that the bilateral trade balance "has had a gap for too long".
Pence said that Japan "in many cases applies barriers to the importation of US goods and services," adding that both countries "have a great opportunity ahead" in the economic dialogue formally opened last September to discuss a bilateral economic agreement.
"We trust that this agreement will be a model for the Indian Ocean and the Pacific," said Pence, who also defended that the US leadership in this region "is based on collaboration and not on control, and on ensuring that all countries can follow their own paths and achieve development. "
Abe, on the other hand, said that both countries have agreed to "promote free and open trade in the Indo-Pacific, based on fair rules," as well as expanding bilateral trade and investment "because it is something that benefits both."
The Japanese Executive has used these same arguments to criticize the tariff measures and other protectionist policies applied by the Administration of Donald Trump, and has also expressed concern about the abandonment of the United States of several multinational commercial initiatives.
Both Abe and Pence will participate this week in the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to be held in Singapore and the summit of heads of state and government of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum to be held in Port Moresby, appointments that will seek to promote regional economic integration.
During the third visit to Japan of the US vice president since taking office, both governments also signed a series of agreements to promote mutual investment in infrastructure, telecommunications and nuclear energy for civil use.