On October 16, 2018, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) formally notified Congress that the Trump Administration intends to enter into trade negotiations with Japan towards a possible U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement. As part of that process, USTR is seeking input from interested stakeholders on U.S. interests and priorities, in order to develop the U.S. negotiating position. On October 26, 2018, USTR announced that interested parties have until November 26, 2018 to submit such comments. November 26 is also the deadline to request to testify at a public hearing that USTR will hold on December 10, 2018.

The issues USTR is seeking public input on include:

  • Current tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports to Japan;
  • Customs and trade facilitation issues that could be addressed and improved;
  • Sanitary and phytosanitary measures and other regulatory and standards-based technical barriers to trade between the two countries; and
  • Other measures and practices that undermine fair market opportunities in Japan for U.S. businesses, investors, and exporters.

This 30-day window for public comment and participation in the hearing process presents a unique chance for companies and industry associations to raise issues impacting their business interests in both countries. It also provides the opportunity for interested parties to present their case for increased coordination between U.S. and Japanese standards and regulatory practices in a host of industries, including health care, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, financial institutions, insurance, information technology, express delivery services, autos and auto parts, electronics, and aerospace, among many others. Some of these efforts can be expected to be informed by past work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, but many others will be new and will reflect the changing U.S.-Japan bilateral trade and investment relationship over the past two years.

For more information on how the U.S.-Japan trade negotiations could affect your company and how to participate in the USTR comment and hearing process, please do not hesitate to contact the authors below or any other member of Drinker Biddle’s Customs and International Trade Team.

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