Detroit Automakers Reject Japan Joining Trade Talks image

President Barack Obama’s goal, to create a free trade pact in the Asia Pacific, hit Detroit automakers’ urge not to accept Japan’s bid to join talks.

The automakers seem skeptical that negotiators can dissolve the non-tariff measures that Japan has used as a strategy to keep U.S. cars out of its market.

“Adding Japan to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations will lengthen those negotiations … by years and perhaps keep them from ever coming to fruition,” declared Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council.

The President is somehow caught in the middle since the Detroit Three’s objections, echoed by the 12.2-million AFL-CIO labor organization, raise a political problem for him. Although Obama accepted in the Trans-Pacific Partnership the interest from Mexico, Japan and Canada, he hasn’t yet made a formal decision if the three countries should join negotiations.

“This is a negotiating position with the U.S. government, aimed at ensuring Japan does as much to remove non-tariff barriers as South Korea is required to do under a recently approved bilateral pact,” said Jeffrey Schott, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

At the same time the Japanese government states that “Japan has no tariffs on cars and our acknowledgment is Japan has no non-tariff barriers either.

Japanese officials are expected next week at Washington to discuss the market-opening reforms presented by Obama.