Obama, Ja­pan’s Abe put joint face on trade


Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe will try Tues­day to strengthen eco­nomic ties while con­fronting stiff re­sis­tance from the U.S. leader’s own po­lit­i­cal party to a mas­sive new Pa­cific Rim trade deal.

Trade is one of the top agenda items for Abe’s state visit to the U.S. as the two coun­tries work to­ward a 12-na­tion Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship agree­ment that would fur­ther open vast Asian and Pa­cific rim mar­kets to U.S. ex­ports.

Abe’s visit comes as Obama’s ne­go­tia­tors at­tempt to com­plete the trade agree­ment, and as Obama seeks author­ity from Congress to put the deal, once com­pleted, on a fast track to ap­proval later this year. Obama is press­ing for the trade agree­ment and the ne­go­ti­at­ing author­ity against mount­ing pres­sure from lib­er­als and la­bor unions who fear trade agree­ments can cost Amer­i­can jobs.

The U.S. and Ja­pan are the agree­ment’s big­gest par­tic­i­pants and the talks be­tween the two coun­tries would go far in ad­vanc­ing the broader ne­go­ti­a­tions. But while Obama and Abe won’t be ready to an­nounce a trade break- through, of­fi­cials on both sides say they will likely de­clare they have made con­sid­er­able progress in closing re­main­ing gaps. The tough­est stick­ing points are U.S. tar­iffs on Ja­panese pickup trucks and bar­ri­ers in Ja­pan on cer­tain U.S. agri­cul­tural prod­ucts.

Ahead of Tues­day’s meet­ing and the pomp and cir­cum­stance of a state visit, Obama took Abe to the Lin­coln Me­mo­rial Mon­day af­ter­noon. Obama played tour guide, lead­ing the Ja­panese leader up the steps into the me­mo­rial where they ex­am­ined the Get­tys­burg Ad­dress sketched into the mar­ble walls.

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