The Trump administration officially notified Congress that it will start trade negotiations with Japan, the European Union and the U.K. as soon as three months from Tuesday.
“We will continue to expand U.S. trade and investment by negotiating trade agreements with Japan, the EU and the United Kingdom,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement Tuesday.
The notification is a procedural step under U.S. trade law that is required 90 days before the U.S. enters into negotiations with other countries. The White House cannot engage in official talks before the three-month window is over and needs to closely consult with Congress during that period to ensure it’s fulfilling the objectives laid out in the law.
Lighthizer said he wants to start trade talks with Japan and the EU “as soon as practicable” but no earlier than 90 days from Tuesday. He said the administration intends to start negotiations with the U.K. “as soon as it is ready after it exits from the European Union on March 29, 2019.”
Japan and the EU were initially reluctant to enter into trade talks with the U.S. But both are now willing to negotiate in what may be an effort to avoid tariffs on their automobile and auto-parts exports that the U.S. president has threatened to impose.
Lighthizer has informally met with his European and Japanese counterparts to determine the scope of any future trade deals.
By Jenny Leonard