• Kyodo

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The U.S. Senate has approved a trade-bill amendment seeking to open foreign markets to U.S. autos and auto parts but removed provisions targeting Japan and South Korea and calling for specific market shares, Japanese officials said Thursday.

The original amendment, introduced by Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, and George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican, said the principal negotiating objective of the U.S. in the automotive sector is to increase market access for U.S. vehicles and parts in foreign markets, particularly Japan and South Korea.

The original version would have called on the U.S. government to negotiate market-opening agreements with any member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development where imported cars make up less than 10 percent of the market.

The Paris-based OECD consists of 30 advanced countries, including Japan and South Korea.

But the amendment, approved late Wednesday by the Senate and incorporated into legislation aimed at giving President George W. Bush greater authority to negotiate new trade pacts, only said that “to expand competitive market opportunities for U.S. exports, including motor vehicles and vehicle parts,” is a principal trade negotiating objective for the U.S.

Japanese government and auto industry officials have been lobbying hard against the amendment proposed by Levin and Voinovich.

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