Path-Dependency Effect in Japan-U.S. Trade

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-11-31-39
Graduate School of Service and Trade, Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, 29 Polytechnicheskaya Str., St. Petersburg, 195251, Russian Federation.
Faculty of International Economics, University of Niigata Prefecture, 471, Ebigase, Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture 950-8680, Japan.

Received 25.01.2021.

Abstract. The paper addresses current issues in Japan-U.S. foreign trade following the signing of the Japan-U.S. Trade Agreement and the Japan-U.S. Agreement on Digital Trade in October 2019. By providing an overview of Japan-U.S. trade relations, analyzing current trends in bilateral foreign trade and outlining basic terms of new bilateral agreements, the authors conclude that “path-dependency” in Japan-U.S. contemporary foreign trade persists and trade relations between the two countries are to a greater extent influenced by the U.S. trade policy which aims to assure a broader access of American companies to Japanese markets – the situation that was typical for bilateral trade relations since the 1980s. “Path-dependency” in Japan-U.S. trade relations, conventionally categorized by the existence of numerous trade contradictions, is pronounced in the unchanged goals, strategy and tactics of foreign trade negotiations. The United States maintains its “attacking” role and dominates in the bilateral trade negotiations, while Japan, despite its enhancing influence in the multilateral trading system and regional trade agreements, is forced to “self-defend” and make concessions to a more dominant partner in order to maintain its automobile exports to the United States at the expense of its national interests in other industries, particularly in the agricultural sector. Thus, new trade agreements are unlikely to cause significant structural changes in Japan-U.S. bilateral trade in the shortterm as the problem of persistent trade deficits remains. In order to break the vicious circle of “path-dependency” Japan is to actively cooperate with the economies of the European Union which have large amounts of trade deficits with the U.S., can serve as a mediator in the U.S. – China trade conflicts, as well with other Asian countries via mega-FTAs which possess potential risks to the United States. Further development of foreign trade cooperation will depend on the initiatives of new governments in both countries.

Keywords: Japan, United States, foreign trade, bilateral trade relations, trade agreements


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For citation:
Podoba Z., Gorshkov V. Path-Dependency Effect in Japan-U.S. Trade. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 11, pp. 31-39.

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