US President Donald Trump has directly requested Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to purchase a 'huge amount' of US farm products, Kyodo news agency reported citing Japanese and US government sources familiar with the matter.
According to the sources, the request specified soybeans and wheat as the products the US wants Tokyo to buy. The estimated value of the purchase will reportedly amount to several hundred million dollars including transport costs. The report added that Trump's demand was not part of the ongoing US-Japan trade talks framework.
The news agency said that the Japanese government is mulling its response to Trump's calls.
The report comes as the United States and China are currently locked in a protracted trade dispute. Last week, Chinese companies halted the purchase of US-made agricultural products, according to China's ministry of commerce. Beijing is also considering imposing tariffs on all US farm goods purchased after 3 August.
The move comes as President Donald Trump announced plans to punish China with a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports starting 1 September, accusing Beijing of failing to meet its pledge to buy "large quantities" of agricultural products from the US despite previous agreements at the G-20 summit in Osaka.
Last year, the US imposed tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports in a bid to overcome its massive trade deficit. China, in its turn, retaliated with tariffs against US goods. In May, the US imposed a 25 percent tariff on another $200 billion worth of Chinese products, with China pledging to hike tariffs on $60 billion of US imports.