The U.S. dairy industry pushed President Donald Trump’s administration on Thursday to ensure increased access to the Japanese market, saying the United States lags behind other farming nations that have tariff-cutting agreements with Japan.
In a hearing on bilateral trade negotiations that Washington and Tokyo are set to start as early as in mid-January, a labor union representing American automobile manufacturing employees meanwhile urged the administration to maintain U.S. tariffs on Japanese cars, parts and trucks to curb increases in imports.
Speaking at the United States International Trade Commission hearing, Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president of trade policy at the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation, said upcoming talks for a bilateral trade agreement should achieve “a high level of market access” in Japan.
Castaneda said that in terms of access to the world’s third-largest economy, the United States is behind Australia — which already has a bilateral free trade agreement with Japan — as well as the 11 members of a Pacific FTA and the European Union, a 28-nation bloc that has signed an FTA with Japan.
“America is already behind and we ask the administration to act soon,” he said.
In a written testimony, the council and federation effectively pushed Japan to reduce tariffs on dairy products beyond levels agreed to under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 11-nation FTA that will enter into force on Dec. 30, and the Japan-EU FTA.
The organizations urged the administration to use the trade talks with Japan to secure “a better outcome” than that contained in the CPTPP or in the Japan-EU FTA “for each tariff line.”
Japan and the European Union are speeding up domestic procedures for the early enforcement of their FTA.
“Japan’s market for imported dairy products is tightly restricted in most product areas,” the testimony said. “In addition to tariffs, Japan maintains a complex quota system for several of its dairy products which it uses to allocate its in-quota quantities according to designated uses.”
Josh Nassar, legislative director for the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America International Union — also known as the United Automobile Workers, or UAW — accused Japan of having a “closed market” for American automobiles.
The United States should maintain tariffs on Japanese cars, parts and trucks “until their market is truly open to actually see big increases in allowing imports,” he said.
While acknowledging Japan imposes no tariffs on foreign cars, Nassar argued the Japanese government has set up “a web of closed systems” such as dealerships that make it difficult for foreign automakers to have successful sales in Japan.
Nassar also claimed Japan has not been hesitant about manipulating its currency to give its exports an unfair trade advantage.
Aside from Thursday’s hearing, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is scheduled to hold a separate hearing for industries on Monday regarding bilateral trade agreement talks with Japan.