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U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk Announces Progress through U.S.-Japan Economic Harmonization Initiative, Expanding Trade and Market Opportunities for American Producers

New Cooperation Yields Joint Trade Principles on High-Tech Services; Improvements Made in IPR Protection, Spectrum Assignment

Washington, D.C. - Today, the United States announced important progress with Japan on a range of trade and regulatory issues as well as on new areas of joint cooperation that will expand job-supporting trade opportunities for producers and consumers in the United States and Japan.

“I welcome the progress we have made through the U.S.-Japan Economic Harmonization Initiative (EHI), which expands job-supporting business and export opportunities for American entrepreneurs, workers, manufacturers, and service providers,” said Ambassador Kirk. “Addressing issues of concern and working closely together to advance new areas of cooperation will further deepen our relationship with Japan – a strong ally and our fourth largest export market.”

Through engagement under the EHI, Japan improved the business environment and expanded access for a broad range of U.S. goods and services. These areas include intellectual property protection, automobiles, information and communication technology services and products, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, and distribution services.

The United States and Japan also jointly pursued new areas of cooperation in the EHI across a wide range of topics of mutual interest. The United States and Japan agreed on a set of non-binding trade principles for information and communication technology (ICT) services and will promote wide adoption of these principles by other countries to support the global development of ICT services. These include Internet and other network-based applications that are critical to innovative e-commerce, Internet search and advertising, cloud computing, and other services. The principles cover a range of topics including regulatory transparency, open access to networks and applications, free flow of information across borders, as well as non-discriminatory treatment of digital products, foreign investment in ICT services, and efficiency in spectrum allocation. You can read the full text of the bilateral Trade Principles for Information and Communication Technology Services.

Other areas of concrete progress achieved since EHI talks began in February 2011 are outlined in the Initiative’s Record of Discussion, released today. Additional key highlights include:

Enhancing Access for Advanced Automobiles: Japan improved transparency and predictability for the import of automobiles that incorporate new, advanced technologies and features not covered by existing regulation.

Introducing Spectrum Auctions: Japan will introduce a system within three years enabling commercial spectrum to be assigned by auction. Spectrum auctions will increase competitive opportunities for new entrants and new wireless technologies by improving objectivity, transparency, and accountability in the spectrum assignment process.

Enabling New Market Entry for Internet-enabled Video: Japan affirmed that American companies do not face foreign equity restrictions specific to offering Internet-enabled (“over-the-top”) video services, helping ensure they are able to offer innovative new services in the Japanese market.

Strengthening Intellectual Property Protection: Japan introduced new legal protections that enhance the ability of intellectual property right holders to defend their products and services from unauthorized use through technological measures, such as copy and access controls.

Reducing the Drug and Medical Device Lag: Japan made important progress to improve access for Japanese patients to life-saving and other advanced U.S. pharmaceuticals and medical devices by shortening the lag by several months between the time regulatory approval is sought and a final decision is made for a range of products.

Strengthening Vaccine Cooperation: Japan expanded access for citizens to three life-saving vaccines, and strengthened cooperation with the U.S. Government to bolster its vaccination programs.

Improving Access for Cosmetics and Medicated Cosmetics: Japan revised rules to enable new efficacy claims in advertising and labeling for cosmetics, as well as further streamlined the import process for cosmetics and medicated cosmetics.

Streamlining Merger Reviews: Japan revised rules to increase the speed, transparency, and predictability of anti-monopoly merger reviews, bringing Japan’s process into closer alignment with global best practices.

The United States will also continue to work with Japan on a range of topics discussed under EHI to resolve outstanding issues, including concerns about competitive advantages given to Japan Post vis-à-vis private suppliers of banking, insurance, and international express delivery services.

BACKGROUND

The EHI, launched in November 2010, aims to contribute to our countries’ economic growth by promoting cooperation to harmonize approaches that facilitate trade, address business climate and individual issues, and advance coordination on regional issues of common interest. The EHI process is led by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and includes the participation of multiple agencies in both Governments.

Work under the EHI began in February 2011 with an exchange of issues of interest to both Governments, and a first round of working group meetings was held on these issues in Tokyo, Japan during late February – early March 2011. Subsequent working group meetings were held in Washington, D.C. in July 2011. In addition, a High-Level Officials meeting between Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis and Japan Deputy Foreign Minister Shinichi Nishimiya took place in October 2011. The EHI Record of Discussion, released today, summarizes key areas of engagement and outcomes from these talks.