Tokyo– The US and Japan will begin negotiations on August 9 to reach a bilateral trade agreement, it was announced here on Tuesday.

The first round of talks, due to be held in Washington, will be led by Japan’s Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Efe news reported.

Speaking at a press conference to announce the launch of negotiations, Motegi said he wanted to have “constructive talks” for expanding free trade.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has objected to Washington’s large trade deficit with Tokyo, which stood at $68.876 billion in 2017, in line with its trade policy with other countries and regions, although the deficit is much lower now compared to a decade earlier.

In the past Japan has favoured regional trade treaties, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership — from which the US withdrew in January 2017 — more than bilateral trade deals.

The announcement of trade talks between the two countries came after Japanese authorities signed a wide-ranging free trade agreement with the EU on July 17, after years of negotiations. (IANS)