Our government has been negotiating with the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a comprehensive free trade agreement with eight nations in the Asia-Pacific region — for quite a long time, and the eighth (and hopefully final) round of negotiations is scheduled to take place this month.
I am troubled by Japan’s call to join the agreement now that the final details are very nearly in place.
Japan has a history of putting up barriers to trade, and for the Japanese government to ask to join the agreement so late in the process after so many of the details have been ironed out is a tall order. This won't give the U.S. or any of the other eight countries involved in the deal adequate time to ensure Japan is really going to “play fair” after signing the agreement.
Persistent use of protectionist tactics in Japan has impacted many American industries — grain, beef, steelmaking, construction — but nowhere is it more prevalent than in the automotive industry.
For every one car that American companies send to Japan, Japanese companies send 180 to the U.S. Of the 6 million cars sold in Japan last year, only 8,000 were imported from America.
There is no doubt that this has had a negative impact on the domestic auto industry, and allowing this protectionism to continue under a free trade agreement would be unconscionable.
I know that free trade is good for our country and good for American workers. I just hope that our representatives in Congress and Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill will work to make sure every nation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership will agree to make trade truly free.
Ernie Lee lives in Columbia.