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Lawmakers Urge Kirk to Consult With Congress on Japan, TPP

U.S. lawmakers urged Trade Representative Ron Kirk to consult with Congress “well in advance” of any decisions related to Japan’s potential request to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks.

The House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter dated today to Kirk, according to the text posted on the committee’s website. Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, has a history of sheltering its domestic market from “meaningful competition” and various products face barriers, the letter read.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will hold a press conference to discuss joining the TPP after ruling-party lawmakers submit their opinions on the subject, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Nov. 7. Noda will announce Japan’s participation in the talks tomorrow before heading to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Honolulu, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, without citing anyone.

“Paramount considerations in evaluating a request relating to a trade agreement must be whether Japan is willing and able to meet the high standard commitments inherent in U.S. free trade agreements and whether inclusion would truly open this historically closed market to the benefit of our companies, workers and farmers,” the letter said.

Rules such as restrictions on the operation of state-owned enterprises and “new disciplines on non-tariff barriers” could address some of the concerns, the letter said.

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