politics

U.S. urges Japan to be bolder in opening markets

51 Comments
By ELAINE KURTENBACH

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51 Comments
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A trade agreement doesn't increase demand for a commodity, product or service. The same demand exists, it's just that the US companies want money from Japan while they browbeat the US public to "buy American" and stick flags on everything, saying "Proudly made in the USA!"

"Pritzker said it could yield tens of billions of dollars a year in economic gains and increased exports for each side."

Oh really? How is that? What is Japan going to export that isn't exporting now? Natto? It's just he US hoping to export more things like GMO crops, high fructose corn syrup junk and drugs that don't work.

I don't see the US offering to cut the 25% tariff on Japanese pickup trucks entering the US. Or how about the 4% tariff on Japanese cars? There is no tariff on cars entering Japan.

TPP is rotten.

0 ( +13 / -12 )

“It is time for all of us to be bold. Incremental steps will not lead us to the high-standard outcome that we all agreed to pursue when we joined the negotiations,”

Well-said! It’s time for Japan to think out of box and take bold steps to move on the negotiation, or else.

Too much time has been wasted, and too little progress has been made from Japan’s end.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Love it... Penny was using a popular Japanese word... "bold". I think she was having some fun throwing it back at them.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Asked why there was such a long hiatus in trade missions to the world’s third-largest economy, Pritzker said she was perplexed.

I'm not, 20yrs stagnation along with Japans continued stubbornness to more fairly trade with the rest of the world making it not worth the bother, Japan passing & all that.......... China was more worth the time the last 20yrs that's basically it!

While the TPP aint perfect its long past due for Japan to more openly open up, could be Japans last chance, if TPP goes ahead without Japan & it should then Japan will be stuck with making a list of requirements to even ask to join once in place

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

Well-said! It’s time for Japan to think out of box and take bold steps to move on the negotiation, or else.

US is offering very little that Japan needs, and is offering a lot that is not to Japan's benefit. Japan is taking the bold step of ignoring the TPP, as it should.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Democracy has to listen to voices of voters. If not, they will lose in elections. The government cannot ignore voices who will be affected. The country is not made of big global businesses only. Egoism of giant countries cannot be accepted sometimes.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

A trade agreement doesn't increase demand for a commodity, product or service. The same demand exists, it's just that the US companies want money from Japan while they browbeat the US public to "buy American" and stick flags on everything, saying "Proudly made in the USA!"

Nonsense. Demand for a commodity is strongly based on the price of that commodity. When the price of a commodity is lifted by either restricting the supply, or fixing the minimum price, demand falls. The "Buy American" campaign is funded mainly by labor unions, and is not unique to America. You can find many "日本製" or "Made in Japan" stickers and signs in Japanese electronics and department stores.

America and the other countries are not asking for special favors from Japan, they merely want the same access to the Japanese market that they haven given to Japan for decades.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Asked why there was such a long hiatus in trade missions to the world’s third-largest economy, Pritzker said she was perplexed.

Is she really this dumb just like Froman?

Tell your boss to get his house in order by urging the Congress to pass the fast track. Japan is not going to make drastic commitments to a peon who has no decision making power. When I mean peon, I don't mean her but her boss who is living on borrowed time.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Honestly, The U.S needs to shift it's focus from Japan to China.

If Japan wants to live like the Eloi let them. I'd rather do business with the Morlocks. That relationship will stand the test of time.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

“It is time for all of us to be bold. Incremental steps will not lead us to the high-standard outcome that we all agreed to pursue when we joined the negotiations,”

As Ethan and others have stated, this is hitting the nail right on the head -- in politically correct language. In simpler terms, she is saying it is time for Japan to stop playing games/dragging its feet, and live up to the obligations and commitments it made to get into the TPP talks. Fish or cut bait.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

I'm not, 20yrs stagnation along with Japans continued stubbornness to more fairly trade with the rest of the world making it not worth the bother, Japan passing & all that.......... China was more worth the time the last 20yrs that's basically it!

20 years of "fair trade" with China is what got the US into this mess with China's aggressive military stance. You feed the power hungry with money and now Obama is struggling to contain them with his pivot to Asia.

The negotiations aren't going well because American TPP negotiators don't understand the Japanese culture of doing business. The last time Japan was pushed into an international "bold" action to produce a "high standard outcome" led to Japan's entry into WW2 and ultimately, its defeat. A visit to Hiroshima and you hopefully learn the consequences of bold actions vs incremental steps.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

"U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is urging Japan to be bolder in opening its markets to help reach a deal on a pan-Pacific trade agreement." The opening of Japanese markets would set the business community to swooning.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What a steaming pile this article is. It mentions the issues Japan is reluctant to compromise on, but makes no mention of the issues the US hasn't compromised on, creating the impression that Japan is the only problem.

And most importantly I still see no mention of the insane copyright clauses in the TPP. These would ban the export of anything copyrighted/patent/etc. in the receiving country. Not so bad I hear you thinking? Think again.

Japan's copyright rules are pretty strict, so only relatively major innovations are patentable/copyrightable. The same for most of Europe.

The U.S.'s definitions of what constitutes a "new" invention are much more lax, which is a big part of why the U.S. has so many "new" inventions every year, many are just minor improvements on existing ideas.

What this means in practical terms is that the copyright clauses in the TPP would ban a lot of Japanese products from going to the U.S. because the goods or components in the goods would be considered patented/copyrighted in the U.S. as even minor changes in design are new intellectual property in the U.S.

However Japan could do nothing about incoming U.S. goods that didn't exactly correspond to their stricter intellectual property laws where only major innovations constitute a new copyright.

It would also mean that any product tried up in patent litigation in the U.S. couldn't be exported anywhere else in the world, which would effectively allow any U.S. company to use malicious litigation to block or delay the release of competitors' products. This has been a problem in the U.S., but now it would become an international problem, and given the US courts' track record of favouring U.S. companies it doesn't take a genius to see how the TPP's copyright clauses could be abused systematically.

Not to mention of course that the TPP also attempts to enshrine the idea of "eternal intellectual property", where copyright and patents can be extended until the sun dies and grows cold, which is possibly the most dangerous idea to competition and innovation in the history of the planet.

All in all, accepting the TPP as it stands would be economic suicide.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

It is interesting that in a recent PewResearch survey of global attitudes, the American and Japanese publics were among the most skeptical of the benefits of trade, especially regarding jobs and wages, and yet their leaders are trying to ram the highly secretive TPP, written by and for giant corporations, down their throats in the most undemocratic fashion.

One has to ask, if this trade pact is so beneficial for the majority, as political and corporate talking heads insist, why is the process so secretive? What is there to hide?

http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/09/16/faith-and-skepticism-about-trade-foreign-investment/

6 ( +6 / -0 )

America thinks the TPP means To Protect Profits, its all about big drug companies, insurance companies, food ( Monsanto) intellectual property, no more downloading movies etc , energy companies etc, screw everyone and everything else so long as these groups are protected and the markets opened op.

Screw the US and screw the TPP its BS . Japan should go and do separate deals with interested countries on the side.

Most of this TPP is secret, please explain to me why ?

6 ( +9 / -3 )

In the case of TPP, Japan does not have luxurious options available when it comes to negotiate with the US. It’s an either-or scenario. Cut the tariffs significantly or be left behind.

Here is the thing: Whitehouse won’t be tricked this time around like last April, so the choice is really in Japan’s hand,

If Japan is ditched from TPP table, the benefiter could be Japan’s nemesis, that would be an irony.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

EthanWilberOct. 22, 2014 - 10:11AM JST In the case of TPP, Japan does not have luxurious options available when it comes to negotiate with the US. It’s an either-or scenario. Cut the tariffs significantly or be left behind.

The TPP isn't an all or nothing thing. It isn't even standardised from country to country. That was the original intent, but compromise and negotiations have left only small portions of the TPP that are standard, and most of it has been watered down or altered to the point where the original intent of the TPP - a standard agreement amongst Pacific nations for trade - is no longer even remotely true.

As for Japan being left behind... don't make me laugh. There's nothing stopping Japan from concluding individual trade agreements... which is fundamentally what the TPP has become, individualised.

If Japan is ditched from TPP table, the benefiter could be Japan’s nemesis, that would be an irony.

If Japan had any common sense it would hand the TPP to whoever it hated most. The thing is pure economic poison.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

U.S. and Japanese negotiators were closing the gap on trade in farm goods and vehicles

The vehicles. Here is a good report on the vehicles.

"Detroit Three urge 30-year tariff phase-out on Japan cars"

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/02/us-usa-japan-autos-idUSBRE96114720130702

Detroit should open up its market.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

US is offering very little that Japan needs, and is offering a lot that is not to Japan's benefit. Japan is taking the bold step of ignoring the TPP, as it should.

farmboy -- nonsense. Have you missed the fact that the U.S. is offering to reduce the tariffs on autos from 2.5% to 0%? As competitive, and large, as the U.S. auto industry is -- like 4 times the size of Japan's -- giving the Japanese automakers an extra 2.5% to utilize is HUGE. But, don't take my work for it, just Google and see what the Japanese Business Federation/Keidanren says about TPP.

It bears repeating again so here it goes.

Japan has concluded EPA with 8 out of 11 TPP nations. Therefore, this is essentially an EPA ageement with U.S. and Japan.

And, nigelboy, "it bears repeating" that the collective GDP's of those 8 countries you mention don't even make it on the radar compared to the U.S. So please stop trying to use that to support your point. You know full well the U.S. market is the carrot for all these countries, especially Japan, so it has the right to play hardball.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

jerseyboyOct. 22, 2014 - 11:09AM JST

Are you kidding? Japan does not impose any tariff on imported cars, while US impose 2.5% tariff on cars and 25% tariff on trucks. The US is proposing to reduce the tariff on cars and trucks over the coming 30 years.

I am not sure if I am still alive in 30 years.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I hope this is rejected fully. Japan does't need to be a part of this TPP and should never have entered negotiations.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Its funny if The US ignored Japan and traded with China many posters will say the US dumped Japan for China . I say why not everything from a China and Japan comes to the US how many Japanese car makers are in the US now I can't even think of any US car makers in Japan and please don't say the roads are too narrow that would just be a lame excuse! Ok cry foul

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Japan "taxes" imported cars using non tariff trade barriers.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Japanese politicians will not open the door to the TPP concerning the inefficient agricultural practices. The practice of subsidizing farm goods is entrenched in Japan. The benefits of cheaper imported food to the Japanese consumers are lost in political double talk and dire doom predictions from the agricultural sector. Too much money and politics are involved to opening this closed market. Forget Japan and move forward with the rest of the world.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The US is proposing to reduce the tariff on cars and trucks over the coming 30 years.

That's not what the article you linked to says. The US doesn't seem to have official proposed anything of the sort. Of course the car makers want 30 years - they have a fairly strong vested interest in painting the best doomsday scenario they can.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Just the latest in a long line of US government officials who have to come to Japan and pleaded for market access. I still remember Bush Sr. being so upset over Japanese "intransigence" that he literally threw up. Indeed, for all the smart people in the US, its surprising that they constantly send folks to Japan that are totally clueless of the local language, customs, markets, etc. The last guy who actually knew what was going on was Clyde P.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Have you missed the fact that the U.S. is offering to reduce the tariffs on autos from 2.5% to 0%?

Wow, 2.5%. IIRC, not too long ago an article said that Japan was willing to cut the tariffs on agricultural products by 20%, and the US wasn't happy.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Looks like Japan could not fit in with multilateral deals except for bilateral deals. the US could have just move on with other countries. Why wait one more year or so?. I think evryone want to see this moving asap. Cut Japan out.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

What a steaming pile this article is. It mentions the issues Japan is reluctant to compromise on, but makes no mention of the issues the US hasn't compromised on, creating the impression that Japan is the only problem.

But Japan is the only problem.

Let's remember who invited Japan to be a part of TPP... Oh, wait a second, Nobody invited Japan to be part of TPP did they? Japan invited itself to the treaty, fully knowing the intentions and goals already contained in the treaty. But not being happy with what all of the other members had already decided, Japan decided to change the treaty to suit itself, right? Give me one reason why the other parties should negotiate with Japan?

Japan has no right whatsover to try to negotiate any points in TPP, beggars can't be choosers. If Japan didn't like the way the treaty the way it was, they should have stayed out. Japan knows where the door is, it can leave anytime.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

sangetsu03Oct. 22, 2014 - 05:58PM JST But Japan is the only problem.

Bull. Every single nation is currently negotiating the TPP.

Let's remember who invited Japan to be a part of TPP.

Did you even look up what the TPP stands for before sounding off? I doubt it. Japan is a Pacific nation. It doesn't need an "invitation".

Japan decided to change the treaty to suit itself, right? Give me one reason why the other parties should negotiate with Japan?

Because every single nation looking at joining the TPP is negotiating. You know what they call someone who just signs the first thing put in front of them? A sucker.

Japan has no right whatsover to try to negotiate any points in TPP, beggars can't be choosers.

Wow, so the 3rd biggest economy in the world is a "beggar" in your opinion? The nation that could bankrupt the US and crash its entire economy is a "beggar". You clearly have an warped view of world economics.

If Japan didn't like the way the treaty the way it was, they should have stayed out. Japan knows where the door is, it can leave anytime.

Clearly you don't know how negotiations work or you wouldn't be spewing this nonsense. Sounds like sour grapes to me. Are you all upset because you're beginning to realise that the US isn't all-powerful? Better get used to it, because the US is on a downhill slide.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

sangetsu03 your remarks apply equally to America, they are johnny come latelys to the TPP too, and want to dictate to the others the terms and conditions, effectively trying to bully smaller nations into submission, I say good on Japan for sticking fat , its the USA who is being unreasonable.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Nobody invited Japan to be part of TPP did they?

Japan was invited. South Korea wanted to join, but was not invited.

Give me one reason why the other parties should negotiate with Japan?

Ask the other parties. How would Japan knows.

Japan knows where the door is, it can leave anytime.

So does everybody.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

If Japan didn't like the way the treaty the way it was, they should have stayed out. Japan knows where the door is, it can leave anytime.

And other countries can stop negotiating with them at any time. The fact that the negotiations are still happening just shows that the parties negotiating are still hoping to come to an agreement.

I personally hope the talks fall through though, the TPP is nothing good for Japan.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

One look at the US economy after opening up markets to China and NFTA with Mexico and Canada should convince any country why trade partnerships are not good for any country as a whole but the select few. I hope Japan does not move forward with TPP else it will lose whatever gains made for small business owners/startups. What does Japan stand to gain that couldn't be gained in the last 100 60 yrs of trading with the US and other companies. What US goods are available much less affordable in stores today around Japan and affordable at that, I don't see any GE, Whirlpool, Serta, being sold at stores in Japan?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Wow, 2.5%. IIRC, not too long ago an article said that Japan was willing to cut the tariffs on agricultural products by 20%, and the US wasn't happy.

Kazuaki -- you math is as bad as Japan's willingness to play by the rules. Japan's current agricutural tariffs are as high as 800%, so a 20% cut still leaves then ridiculously high. Zero tariffis is the goal, not a 20% cut. And, luckily, the U.S. is standing firm and not letting Japan play the "fuzzy math" game.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Amazing how stupid people are. The charter for TPP states clearly that the goal is "zero tariffs on all goods by 2015". This was what Japan read when it decided to join the treaty. And no, Japan was not invited, in fact several of the participating countries did not want Japan involved, as they knew that Japan would never agree to open it's markets. It was only due to America's insistance that Japan was let in. It is nice to see how Japan expresses it's appreciation.

But it is all moot, Japan will not be in the treaty, much to the loss of Japanese consumers who will continue to be stuck with food bills which are two to three times higher than other developed countries.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

I wanna be able to buy Cap'n Crunch at my local Aeon supermarket! Lucky Charms and Froot Loops too!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Re: Sangetsu03:" But it is all moot, Japan will not be in the treaty, much to the loss of Japanese consumers who will continue to be stuck with food bills which are two to three times higher than other developed countries."

While the assumption that the Japanese food bills are two to three times higher I still feel rather safe in the quality of the food we are able to buy compared to GMO in other countries that want to force that to the Japanese public and foreigners residing in Japan. They can keep their GMO products, and Japan can continue with its quality of foods, which by the way the last I heard is rated very high by many other countries. I will add, you mentioned that the food in Japan is two to three times higher, in what manner, as I have traveled and find that meat, eggs, bread, milk and other common staples are fairly comparable in price but lack quality as here in Japan. Can you be more specific at what food items you are referring too?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I understand many of both Americans and Japanese are against TTP. I still don't understand exactly what TTP is. I know some of US govt arguments are really stupid, such as American car safety regulations they demand Japan to adopt.

But I agree on one thing that Japan should open its market with or without TTP in some area. That should make Japan stronger. Especially in the area where politicians and government administrations use the merit of "closed" market for their own good.

Many Americans really hate their politicians but it's not just America, ours are at least as bad as theirs too. and I guess that's the same all over the world.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Schopenhauer,

Democracy has to listen to voices of voters.

Very true.

So how come the TPP negotiations are being conducted IN SECRET?

If this is democracy, it must be some new and unusual definition that I'm not familiar with.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wow, 2.5%. IIRC, not too long ago an article said that Japan was willing to cut the tariffs on agricultural products by 20%, and the US wasn't happy. 20% on what!? 800% tarriff on rice! Japanese agriculture tariffs are so high theyre an insult to other countries. lets drop all tarifs to 0 but still let Japan have 20~800% tariffs on agriculture.. enough with the BS Japan get your tariffs at a level thats fair or GTFO of the TPP.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

And, nigelboy, "it bears repeating" that the collective GDP's of those 8 countries you mention don't even make it on the radar compared to the U.S. So please stop trying to use that to support your point. You know full well the U.S. market is the carrot for all these countries, especially Japan, so it has the right to play hardball.

I've stated all along that this TPP is a defacto EPA/FTA between U.S.and Japan. But as usual jerseyboy, you're all over the place. By stating above, you've essentially admitted to the fact this is not about 'equal' terms but the parties who have the weight will try to push forth their demands that would suit their interests. However, Japan isn't caving in to U.S. demands especially in the light of the fact that if such agreement were to be made, they run the risk of being rejected by the Congress. And don't go mouthing off about U.S. playing fair for they have explicitly stated that they too have their own "sensitive" sectors that will be protected.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Frungy The US is on the down hill ######################## So that means all other countries are already on the bottom

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The FTA negotiation between Japan and U.S. clearly do have a corporatist dimension that is highly vulnerable to pressure from special interests. The problem is that majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance, especially over the lack of transparency of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations are being consulted with details of the agreement. The secrecy surrounding the talks makes it difficult for the congressional approval. The FTA will go well beyond traditional market access issues of tariffs and quotas to become practice in industrial policies, and will provide for increasingly complex regulations governing trade.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Open markets" don't work for developed countries, anyway. They work in theory, but not in practice.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

You think the price of food is high in Japan, then trying food shopping in NZ where beef lamb and agriculture is produced, many average income families can no longer afford to buy cheese, beef n lamb at the weekly shopping jaunt.

Japan in comparison is not so expensive.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"Open markets" don't work for developed countries, anyway. They work in theory, but not in practice.

How can we know for sure? There has never modern history been a free and open market, has there? We can't know if they work in practice, because they have never been tried. The only thing we had which was close to an open market was Hong Kong in the pre-China days. Arguably, Hong Kong was the most economically successful countries of it's size, wasn't it?

While the assumption that the Japanese food bills are two to three times higher I still feel rather safe in the quality of the food we are able to buy compared to GMO in other countries that want to force that to the Japanese public and foreigners residing in Japan.

Did you know that Japan Agriculture is pretty much the sole supplier of of seeds, fertiliser, and insecticides in Japan? Did you know that Japan Agriculture buys nearly all of these from America? You may already be eating food in Japan which is linked to GMO crops.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

This is pretty simple wrt to Japan, for decades Japan has enjoyed good to GREAT access to overseas markets in a lot of areas all the while doing its damned best to KEEP OUT non-Japanese products, through tariffs & the big one is the non-tariff stuff, through regulation, brainwashing(japan #1 rest of the world bad!) for decades!

The reason TPP is bad for Japan is because they ALREADY have great access to lots of markets but the reverse has NEVER been even remotely reciprocal except for a few luxury items & things Japan doesn't make or grow.

Time is up though, JApan has had its cake & been stuffing itself for too long! If Japan aint going to allow real access then it should be shown the door pronto

Its amazing how so many gaijin living here cant seem to see the obvious........

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@GW totally agree with you, its time for Japan to show its card or fold and leave the TPP, Japan cant really afford to not have a TPP with the US as Korea does and that just make all it good that much more cheaper than Japanese. well see if Abe is prepared to sacrifice $billions in lost trade to the US or tell the J farmers its time to get competetive or retire. you can see the changes already with the cutting of subsides with the next 5 years, Japan is a democracy, making the 97% of the population 99% of the economy to keep supporting 1% of the economy 3% of the population is just plain stupidity

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There seem to be a problem that U.S. have gotten convince that free market globalization is to their advantage somehow, or will be in some distant future. Think of all the great words that have come out of the think tank in Corporate offices and Washington the last 30-40 years. Things like outsourcing, globalization, service economy and emerging markets. As a business plan, corporations raced to cut the only real cost they could control and that was labor. So, at the expense to their citizens, they outsourced the manufacturing to third world countries offering slave wages. When they finally hit the point of no return, where the unemployed and underemployed could no longer afford even the "cheap imports", their new corporate strategy is the "emerging markets" which there are 1.3 billion consumers in China and only 300 million in the U.S., the numbers work for them. Throw the jobs, income and ability to spend in the U.S., bankrupt the system and concentrate on the "emerging markets" and the CEO's and their companies will in theory increase their business and profits 10 times. This is actually a flawed theory, but, never the less that is what there doing. This is also what Japan is also doing inside China, copying the footprints of U.S. The economy has been destroyed from the inside out and U.S. goverment have allowed it to happen. The "free market" doesn't work and history has shown that after NAFTA and other treaties were implemented, the workers in U.S. were screwed. Same thing will happen to Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's not a matter of needing to be "bolder". Japan's market simply cannot survive much opening. For 30 years Americans have been demanding that. But doing so is political suicide. When will the Americans ever learn and stop hallucinating about it?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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