WASHINGTON, D.C. - As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepares to visit Washington, D.C., this week to meet with President Barack Obama on trade and other issues, the Ford workforce is making clear that any future trade policies must ensure a level playing field for the auto sector.
The U.S. is currently negotiating a trade agreement with 11 other nations called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Unfortunately, the U.S. is now considering allowing Japan to join the agreement, in effect locking in one-sided trade with the most closed auto market among developed nations.
Ford employees made their voice on the issue heard earlier this month when Ford joined the UAW in hand-delivering more than 40,000 petitions signed by hourly and salaried employees to the White House expressing the view that trade must be two-way. This view that has been communicated to elected leaders of both political parties.
Nearly half of Ford’s U.S. workforce participated in this petition drive to signal to the U.S. government that Japan should not be allowed to enter the TPP.
Japan is the third largest automotive market in the world, with almost five million vehicles sold annually. Yet it remains the most closed auto market among developed nations.
Due to Japan's protectionist policies, the U.S. can only send one vehicle there for every 150 vehicles Japan sends to the U.S. In fact Japan keeps its auto market virtually closed to all imported auto products. U.S and other foreign automakers comprise only 5 percent of Japan’s domestic market.
Japan being part of the TPP could lead to unilateral tariff elimination by the United States and result in an increased trade deficit with Japan. In effect, the Japanese auto companies could receive a $1 billion annual tax break from the United States.
And Japan’s entry into TPP could seriously harm the progress that has been made to strengthen the American auto industry and jobs. Nearly 70 percent of our bilateral trade deficit with Japan is in the automotive sector. The U.S. auto trade deficit with Japan reached $43.6 billion in 2011, up 33 percent from 2009. This problem would become much worse if Japan enters the TPP.
By further opening our market in the U.S. without insisting first on reforms in Japan, we are jeopardizing the American auto recovery. Manufacturing has been the driving force of our economic recovery, and the U.S. government should not take steps that would reverse that progress.
Thank you to all who contributed to this effort by signing a petition and making your voice heard.