WASHINGTON – The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has identified about 10 nontariff barriers that are hindering American participation in Japan’s automobile market, according to U.S. trade sources.
If Washington formally presents a list of the barriers to Tokyo, the government will likely have to address them because the automobile sector is a key factor in whether the United States will allow Japan to join ongoing talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade pact.
The tax break for minivehicles in Japan is seen as an especially sensitive area the U.S. wants rectified.
The USTR is believed to have prepared the list, which also includes complaints about Japanese automotive standards and certification requirements, as an internal document to adjust the U.S. government’s position for talks with Congress and the American auto industry, according to the sources.
The recovering U.S. auto industry, which opposes allowing Japan to join the TPP negotiations, has declined to identify problems in the Japanese market, fearing that doing so could lead to progress in ongoing preliminary consultations between Tokyo and Washington on the TPP.
U.S. President Barack Obama informed Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at their April 30 summit that Washington considers automobiles, the insurance sector and beef imports as the major issues that could interfere with Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations.