Japan considers buying more US energy as Abe prepares to meet Trump

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering increasing energy imports from the United States, two sources familiar with the plan said, as he prepares to meet President Donald Trump, who has complained about Japan’s trade surplus.
Japan is putting together a package of plans for Japanese companies to invest in infrastructure and job-creation projects in the United States for Abe to take to the February 10 meeting with Trump in Washington.
Another idea is to offer to increase liquid natural gas (LNG) imports from the United States, a source in the ruling coalition said.
Another option, if Abe determines that Trump is most concerned about the trade gap, is to increase imports of US shale oil or gas on top of the investment package, according to a top executive at a major Japanese corporation who is close to Abe.
Japanese officials have been scrambling to respond to Trump’s scattershot comments since he took office.
He has threatened to impose a tax on car imports from Mexico, criticised Japan’s trade gap with the United States and most recently accused Japan, along with China and Germany, of devaluing their currencies to the detriment of US companies.
“(Abe) wants to know what’s the most important thing for Trump,” said the executive, who declined to be identified. “If it is the trade surplus that Trump cares the most about, for instance, then we could come up with a few possible solutions,” including importing more US shale oil or gas.
Abe’s approach toward Trump would be “not accommodating, not opposing”, he said.
Utilities would be resistant to buying more US shale gas because they have already committed to buying large amounts and Japan’s demand for energy is falling, an executive at a Japanese gas importer said on condition of anonymity. — Reuters