Letter to President Obama


Fighting to create auto jobs, Rep. Gary Peters sent a letter to President Obama yesterday asking him to stop Japan from joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) until Japan ends its discriminatory practice of operating the most closed auto market among developed nations. Japan ships 200 cars to America for every one they import from us. Given these facts, Rep. Peters thinks Japan's request to join the TPP is an ideal opportunity to level the playing field.

"During these tough economic times, our focus needs to be on creating jobs and I think increasing the number of vehicles we export to Japan is a good place to start," said Congressman Gary Peters. "Because of their discriminatory closed door trade policies, Japan is exporting cars to us at a 200 to 1 ratio right now. I think that if Japan wants to enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they need to make some changes and meet us on equal ground. American auto workers are the best in the world and it's time for us to put American jobs first."

Peters also pointed out in the letter the hypocrisy of Japan with relation to the "Cash for Clunkers" program. When the United States implemented their own program, Japanese cars were not discriminated against. However when Japan did their own version of the program, they promised to include American cars, but then blocked them in practice. Peters wrote to Japanese officials in February 2010 and August 2010 to call on them to honor their promise, but they did not.

Below is the text of Rep. Peters' letter to President Obama which was signed by 14 members of Congress. You can view a signed version by clicking here.

December 5, 2011

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama,

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) presents an opportunity for the United States to gain increased market access to the Asia-Pacific region. Breaking down foreign trade barriers and boosting exports to this region has the potential to create jobs here at home and help drive economic growth.

As you know, Japan has recently expressed interest in joining the TPP. Hopefully, this is a sign that Japan is committed to ending the significant barriers to trade between the United States and Japan. American goods and services face serious market access barriers in Japan, including a number of agriculture products, insurance, drugs, medical devices, and especially autos. Japan remains the most closed auto market among developed nations; Japan ships more than 200 cars to the U.S. for every one car we export there.

Many of these barriers are deeply embedded in Japan, and they continue to be propagated by the Japanese government. Recently, Japan instituted the Eco-friendly Automobile Purchase Program, similar to our successful Cash for Clunkers program. The open, inclusive, and transparent U.S. program developed and approved by Congress specifically allowed all global automakers to have vehicles eligible for vehicle purchases incentives, including Japanese automakers, so as to comply with international trade rules. The Japanese program was instituted in a discriminatory fashion; by using EPA "city" mileage ratings instead of the more accurate EPA "combined city/highway" mileage ratings, Japan severely limited the availability of U.S. auto models that qualified for this program.

Too often, the U.S. opens its markets to foreign competition without reciprocal access. While we play by the rules, other countries use technical barriers or other techniques like currency manipulation to game international trade laws. American workers are the best in the world and we must to allow them to compete on a level playing field.

The TPP represents a chance to form a new template for all future trade agreements, and adding Japan to this agreement while they maintain unacceptable barriers to American goods and services would be a step in the wrong direction. It would also remove a powerful incentive for them to change their discriminatory trade practices. Japan must show that they are serious about opening their market before the United States grants additional trade benefits. We therefore urge you to oppose Japan's inclusion in TPP negotiations at this time. We look forward to working with you on this critical issue.


Gary C. Peters John D. Dingell
Member of Congress Member of Congress

John Conyers, Jr. Dale E. Kildee
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Dan Benishek Hansen Clarke
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Michael H. Michaud Robert E. Andrews
Member of Congress Member of Congress

John C. Carney, Jr. Marcy Kaptur
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Betty Sutton Paul Tonko
Member of Congress Member of Congress

Brian Higgins John A. Yarmuth
Member of Congress Member of Congress