On behalf of the United States, I am honored to participate in Japan’s fourteenth Trade Policy Review. I would like to welcome the Japanese delegation, led by Deputy Director-General Kenko SONE. We thank the Japanese delegation for collaboration at the WTO on a daily basis, and thank you also for Japan’s work to provide answers to our written questions.
Japan is a vital strategic partner to the United States, and a key nation in world trade. We are also the world’s first and third largest economies, together accounting for about 30% of global gross domestic product.
Within the WTO and other multilateral fora, the United States highly values its close working relationship with the Government of Japan, and its cooperation on many topics of mutual concern. Our work on the WTO
e-commerce initiative has been very productive, and we look forward to continuing to work together in developing a consolidated negotiating text that sets high-standard global rules. Japan and the United States are also working together with the European Union across a number of areas, including to promote new, much-needed WTO rules on industrial subsidies that directly address non-market oriented practices by certain WTO members.
Bilaterally, the United States and Japan negotiated the initial stage of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement during 2019. These two Agreements represent a major step towards achieving a more mutually beneficial and balanced U.S.-Japan trade and economic relationship and send a positive signal of what is to come.
The U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement, for example, sets a new global gold standard on digital trade rules. It is the highest-standard digital agreement ever negotiated, and cements the reputation of the U.S. and Japan as top destinations for digital investment. Both Agreements also created positive momentum towards further negotiations, as agreed by our Leaders last September, for a broader trade agreement between our nations.
Although Japan’s industrial tariffs are generally low, significant non-tariff barriers remain. As a result, the United States continues to look to Japan to take new, bold steps to increase transparency, reduce unnecessary regulation, abide by international standards, and remove other non-tariff barriers to trade. Concretely, such concerns are manifest in the continuing lack of adequate access to Japan’s automotive market for U.S. exports due to an array of non-tariff barriers.
Another priority for the United States is agriculture. In spite of the tariff reductions recently negotiated in the USJTA, certain market access barriers still remain. For example, and as the Secretariat Report observes, imports of certain key agricultural products are carried out by state trading enterprises, such as with Japan’s highly regulated and nontransparent importation and distribution system for rice and dairy products, which distorts both consumption and imports.
Prime Minister Abe has highlighted a number of areas for reform, including ones relating to digital privacy and medical care. The United States recognizes the importance of ensuring consumer protection, as well as the long-term sustainability of the government’s social programs. At the same time, we urge caution by ensuring that any reforms do not have a disproportionate impact on any one country’s companies, or repeatedly disadvantage foreign firms in an attempt to shield domestic interests from the consequences of these policies.
Notwithstanding the particular concerns we have raised, the United States acknowledges and welcomes efforts and concrete measures by Japan to facilitate further market opening through domestic reforms and through further bilateral negotiations. The United States looks forward to continued close partnership with the Government of Japan in working towards our shared goals.