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USTR Announces Regulatory Reform Initiative Results with Japan

Washington, D.C. - Today, the United States and Japan released the results of their work under the U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform and Competition Policy Initiative (Regulatory Reform Initiative). United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk welcomed progress made in a number of areas that will help to further open Japan's market, improve its business environment, and stimulate new opportunities for growth.

"I welcome the results we are seeing through this engagement with Japan, which for American exporters and service providers is helping to create new opportunities with our fourth largest trading partner and goods export market," said Ambassador Kirk. "Removing non-tariff barriers to trade and improving transparency in foreign markets are high priorities for the United States, and going forward I look to ensure this important work is strengthened further."

Reform-focused results were seen in a broad range of sectors, ranging from information technologies to agriculture, as well as on cross-cutting issues affecting the business environment such as competition policy. Some of the specific key areas of progress seen in Japan that are identified in today's report include:

  • Taking new steps to accelerate regulatory reviews for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, including by hiring reviewers and setting performance measures.

  • Strengthening protections for music and motion pictures by amending the Copyright Law to make illegal Internet downloads knowingly made from unauthorized sources.

  • Finalizing an arrangement establishing a new import inspection framework that includes steps to facilitate trade in U.S. horticultural products.

  • Opening new opportunities for non-bank providers of electronic fund transfer services by enacting a new law providing the legal framework necessary to offer such services in Japan.

  • Approving new food additives already considered safe around the world, thereby opening

    new opportunities for exports of U.S. food products.

  • Strengthening Japan's competition law regime through amendments that bolster penalties against cartel leaders and extend the period for bringing administrative and criminal actions against anti-competitive acts.

  • Leveling the playing field in customs treatment for high-value items sent via international postal express service compared to requirements imposed on international express carriers for similar services.

  • Reducing waiting times for drug clinical trial consultations and helping to further reduce the lag between the introduction of pharmaceuticals in Japan and in the United States.

  • Improving transparency at Japan's quarantine stations to facilitate smooth import procedures for nutritional supplements.

  • Moving to improve entry and exit requirements affecting U.S. businesspersons residing in Japan.

Ambassador Kirk also emphasized the importance of making progress with Japan on other priority issues for the United States. "Normalizing trade for U.S. beef and securing a level playing field for U.S. insurance providers are two issues that remain of serious concern. I look to Japan to ensure these concerns are addressed as quickly as possible."

BACKGROUND

The United States and Japan today released the 86-page Report to the Leaders, which is prepared at the conclusion of each annual round of the U.S.-Japan Regulatory Reform Initiative. The Report documents the results of work to promote more open markets, ensure fairer competition, and improve the climate for U.S. exporters and service providers in the world's second largest economy.

The United States and Japan annually exchange recommendations under this Initiative, and engage through a results-oriented process that includes four working groups and a high-level officials group. These groups address recommendations made by Japan as well as recommendations made by the United States covering issues such as telecommunications, transparency, agriculture, distribution, commercial law, legal services, medical devices and pharmaceuticals, information technologies, intellectual property rights, insurance, competition policy, and cosmetics/nutritional supplements.

The Initiative, led for the United States by the Office of the United States Trade Representative and for Japan by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, includes the involvement of a broad array of U.S. and Japanese departments and agencies, reflecting the wide scope of issues addressed
through this Initiative.

For a summary of other progress highlights, click here.

For a full copy of the Report to the Leaders, click here.