U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over international trade agreements, issued the following statement regarding the Obama Administration's announcement that it is dropping its objection to Japan's inclusion into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP):
"The challenges of concluding a truly fair and effective trade agreement with Japan are immense. For decades, Japan has implemented egregious barriers that have blocked the import of American automobiles, drastically increased our trade deficit and cost Americans their jobs.
"I appreciate the Administration's efforts to stand up for our auto industry and get Japan to come to the table to address its anti-competitive practices.
"But if Japan does not ultimately agree to stop blocking American companies from its markets, I will urge the President and the Congress not to ratify this trade agreement. Any agreement that allows Japan's businesses to continue playing by one set of rules while ours are forced to play by another will cost us jobs, and I will do whatever I can to stop it."
Sen. Stabenow has been in close contact with the U.S. Trade Representative throughout negotiations on the TPP to express her strong concerns about Japan illegally closing their market to American automobiles.
Japan's efforts to illegally block American cars have led to Japan exporting 120 automobiles into our country for every one American vehicle they allow into their market. Japan's barriers to American automobiles include currency manipulation, onerous vehicle certification for imported cars that Japanese-made vehicles don't have to undergo, zoning laws that make it difficult to establish new dealerships if they carry foreign-made cars, and government incentives that only benefit Japanese cars.
The U.S. trade deficit with Japan is $76 billion, making our trade deficit with the country higher than any other nation except China.
Automobile and auto parts manufacturing is critical to America's economic recovery. In the first half of 2012, the industry accounted for 30% of America's total economic growth. U.S. automakers have created a quarter million American jobs since 2009.