Lawmakers Split on Bringing Japan Into Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Talks

Congress members split today on the announcement by acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis that the U.S. wants to welcome Japan into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.

“Since November 2011, the United States has been engaged in consultations with Japan focused on Japan’s readiness to meet the TPP's high standards for liberalizing trade and investment, and to address specific bilateral issues of concern in the automotive and insurance sectors, as well as other Japanese non-tariff measures," Marantis said.

“The United States and Japan have successfully completed these consultations by concluding a robust package of actions and agreements with Japan in the automotive and insurance sectors, as well as other non-tariff measures. As a result, we are pleased to welcome Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations pending a consensus agreement among the current TPP members and the completion of our respective domestic processes," he said. "Japan’s entry into this important initiative for the Asia-Pacific region will help it to deliver significant economic benefits to the United States, Japan and the Asia-Pacific region."

Through the TPP, the United States and 10 other Asia-Pacific countries are trying to ink a new regional trade agreement.

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership has the potential to open up an important market for American goods and services – supporting exports and job creation in the United States," said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.). "The U.S. and Japan should remain committed to quickly concluding the TPP negotiations in way that maximizes job-creating economic benefits for the U.S.”

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin (D), though, wasn't warm to welcoming Japan into the fold.

“I have major concerns about allowing Japan, with its historically closed auto and auto parts market, to participate in the TPP negotiations," Levin said. "Japan’s history of discriminatory trade practices continues to hurt American workers and American companies. If the talks produce an agreement that does not knock down Japan’s historic trade barriers, Congress should reject it.”