USTR Press Release: 2005 Regulatory Reform Recommendations

Dec. 7, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative today submitted to Japan an extensive set of reform recommendations intended to further open the Japanese market to U.S. companies in key sectors. The recommendations include measures to speed the delivery of cutting-edge drugs to patients, streamline customs procedures, and strengthen competition policy in the mobile and wire-line telecommunications sectors in Japan.

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Japan, Korea, and APEC Affairs Wendy Cutler presented the recommendations to the Japanese Government today at the outset of a Trade Forum meeting in Seattle, Washington, where the two Governments are addressing a number of pressing bilateral trade issues, including the prompt reopening of the Japanese market to U.S. beef.

"The United States is taking every opportunity to press Japan to expeditiously reopen its market to U.S. beef, which remains a top priority of this Administration," said U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman.

Regulatory Reform Initiative

"While we welcome Prime Minister Koizumi's bold economic reform agenda, we are also looking forward to more being done to sweep away the maze of regulations that hamper the ability of U.S. companies to do business in Japan. This will not only promote international commerce, but also keep Japan on a growth trajectory. Furthermore, as the largest economy in Asia, Japan's efforts to deregulate set a good example for other countries in the region working to liberalize their economies," Portman said.

"It is crucial for Japan to clearly establish a level playing field in its plans to move ahead with the momentous reform of Japan Post," stressed Portman. The United States is placing a special focus in its recommendations on Japan's plans to reform Japan Post. Now that key legislation to privatize Japan Post has passed the Japanese Diet, the United States' concerns center on ensuring Japan's implementation of this reform does not unfairly disadvantage private companies, including U.S. companies, in the banking, insurance, and express delivery sectors.

This year's recommendations also place a significant focus on developments in Japan's medical devices and pharmaceuticals sectors. "Given the huge number of cutting-edge medical devices and pharmaceuticals provided to the Japanese market by U.S. companies, it is important they have ample and meaningful opportunities to input into healthcare policies and reforms the Japanese Government is considering. Of particular importance is that Japan's healthcare pricing policies reward innovation," Portman added.

Submitted under the U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative (Regulatory Reform Initiative), the recommendations presented to the Japanese Government today also cover key areas such as information technologies, intellectual property protection, telecommunications, agriculture, distribution, and competition policy.

Assistant USTR Cutler presented the recommendations to Kaoru Ishikawa, Director-General of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Economic Affairs Bureau. Each year, the two Governments exchange reform recommendations in the fall under the Regulatory Reform Initiative, which was launched by President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi in 2001 as a key component of the U.S.-Japan Economic Partnership for Growth. The recommendations serve as a basis for an annual report to the two leaders, specifying reform measures to be taken by each Government. USTR is the lead agency for the U.S. Government for this Initiative while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes the lead for the Japanese Government.

A summary and detailed annex of the reform recommendations can be found on the USTR website.

Trade Forum

During the Trade Forum meeting today, the two Governments are addressing a range of key bilateral issues. The U.S. Government, in particular, will be urging Japan to expeditiously reopen its market to U.S. beef.

Other items on the agenda for the one-day Trade Forum include market access concerns related to construction and marine craft, possible new restrictions on establishment of large retail stores, and a proposal to reform Japan's liquor tax that could disadvantage U.S. wine exporters. The Trade Forum is also an important part of the U.S.-Japan Economic Partnership for Growth.