In a statement presented to the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, President Donald Trump’s administration accused Japan of maintaining nontariff barriers for the auto market and imposing high import tariffs for foreign farm products.
“A variety of nontariff barriers impede access to Japan’s automotive markets,” the statement said, citing issues relating to “certification, unique standards and testing protocols, and hindrances to the development of distribution and service networks.”
“The United States urges Japan to remove nontariff barriers that impede U.S. manufacturers’ ability to compete on a level playing field with their Japanese competitors, both in the area of automobiles and beyond,” it said.
It was the first time that the Trump administration outlined specific issues and sectors it regards as problems in bilateral trade since Trump took office in January.
The statement has increased the likelihood that the United States will file such demands in a high-level economic dialogue the U.S. and Japanese governments are planning to start in April.
The dialogue will be led by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso.
On agriculture, the United States said that despite the Abe government’s efforts to boost competitiveness in the sector, “Japanese agriculture remains highly protected, with some of the highest import tariffs in this sector.”
It effectively criticized Japan’s rice and wheat markets as unfair, saying, “Imports of certain key agricultural products are carried out by state trading enterprises.”
Citing data that the U.S. goods trade deficit with Japan totaled $68.9 billion in 2016, second only to China, the United States said such level of the deficit poses “serious concern” to the country, according to the statement.
“Meaningful structural reforms in Japan will help address global trade imbalances,” it said.
“We remain hopeful that the Abe administration will continue to undertake ambitious domestic regulatory reforms to create new economic opportunities and further open Japan’s economy.”
The statement was presented to the Geneva-based WTO during its biennial review of Japan’s trade policy.