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Letter to The Honorable Masayuki Naoshima, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan

Representative Gary Peters, whose district is home to Chrysler World Headquarters, General Motors plants and more auto suppliers than any district in the country, has assembled a bipartisan group of Members of Congress in urging Japan to make good on the promise it made in January to allow U.S. automobiles to participate in its version of a "Cash for Clunkers" program. Forty Members of Congress have signed a letter Representative Peters authored and sent today to Masayuki Naoshima, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry calling on the country to make a simple change to its program that would fairly allow more U.S. cars to participate.

"The Japanese continue to fail to keep their promise to play by the rules. Eight months ago they said they would allow American cars to participate in their cash for clunkers program but have rigged the rules so that few can," said Representative Peters. "This is exactly the sort of unacceptable unfair trade policy that has cost Michigan hundreds of thousands of jobs in recent years. All we want is a level playing field. Japan promised that but has not delivered."

When Japan first unveiled the rules for its clunkers program, no U.S. cars were allowed to participate. In January, Japan committed to allowing imported cars using its PHP import certification process (like virtually all U.S. models do) to qualify for its program. However, Japan then designed the program's rules to severely limit the number of U.S. models that will actually qualify for the program to just a few. Peters spoke out, and later assembled a bipartisan group of Members to urge Japan to honor its commitment and ask the nation's U.S. ambassador for remedy. Today the group is going further, demanding an answer from the country's trade minister.

The text of the letter to Minister Naoshima is below.

August 10, 2010


The Honorable Masayuki Naoshima
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry
1-3-1 Kasumigaseki
Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-8901
Japan

Dear Minister Naoshima:

Many of us wrote to Ambassador Fujisaki on January 15 of this year to raise concerns over discriminatory trade practices in Japan's Eco-friendly Automobile Purchase Program, a scrappage program. At that time, government policies designed to implement Japan's vehicle scrappage program had classified all U.S.-based automaker vehicles exported to Japan as ineligible.

We were pleased when the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced on January 19 that the Japanese scrappage program would include opportunities for vehicles imported using the Preferential Handling Procedure (PHP) import certification process to qualify, thereby allowing vehicles produced by U.S.-based automakers to participate. This announcement suggested that Japan's program would be more inclusive, as the U.S. program that Congress enacted in 2009 was. The open, inclusive, and transparent U.S. program developed and approved by Congress specifically allowed all global automakers to have vehicles eligible for vehicle purchases incentives, including Japanese automakers, so as to comply with international trade rules.

Despite the announcement that Japan's program would be open to U.S.-based automakers, Japan subsequently released a severely limited list of U.S. auto models that qualify for its program. Many of us wrote Ambassador Fujisaki on February 23, 2010 regarding Japan's decision to use EPA "city" mileage ratings instead of EPA "combined city/highway" mileage ratings as the basis for determining eligibility of vehicles imported using the PHP process. We write today to express our disappointment that this policy still stands. Using "city" mileage ratings does not provide an accurate efficiency evaluation of U.S. vehicles, and this serves to significantly limit the eligibility of U.S. auto models for the Eco-friendly Vehicle Purchase Program. This is not in keeping with Japan's earlier announcement that this program would be inclusive and non-discriminatory.

We ask you to reconsider the decision to use EPA "city" mileage ratings, as the "combined city/highway" mileage ratings better reflect the overall mileage performance of U.S. automobiles. We hope that you will reverse this decision, and implement the Eco-friendly Vehicle Purchase Program, and any future scrappage programs, in a transparent manner that is fair to U.S. autos and complies with international trade rules. We urge you to take this important step towards opening the Japanese market and allowing broader market access for U.S. vehicles. Our nation's open-market, free-trade policies and practices must have reciprocal application with our key global trading partners.

In coordination with the Obama Administration and U.S. Industry, we will continue to closely monitor developments in the Japanese Eco-friendly Automobile Purchase Program to ensure that U.S. companies are actually benefitting from the program. We look forward to working with you on this important trade issue.

Sincerely,

Gary C. Peters Sander M. Levin
Member of Congress Member of Congress

John D. Dingell Xavier Becerra
Member of Congress Member of Congress

George Miller John Campbell
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Dennis Moore Dale E. Kildee
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Joseph Crowley Mike Rogers (MI)
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Candice Miller Marcy Kaptur
Member of Congress Member of CongresS

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Suzanne M. Kosmas
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Jason Altmire Deborah L. Halvorson
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Bill Foster John H. Adler
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Russ Carnahan Ron Klein
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Charles A. Wilson Mark H. Schauer
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Thomas S. P. Perriello Steve Driehaus
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Bob Etheridge Betty Sutton
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Jared Polis Ed Perlmutter
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Kurt Schrader Rick Larsen
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Robert E. Andrews David Wu
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Bill Owens Chellie Pingree
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Paul Tonko Larry Kissell
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Martin Heinrich Albio Sires
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Phil Hare Bruce Braley
Member of Congress Member of Congress


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