TOKYO – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today delivered remarks at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. During her remarks, Ambassador Tai highlighted the importance of the U.S. – Japan economic relationship to delivering inclusive prosperity in both countries and throughout the region. Ambassador Tai discussed how the United States and Japan are working together to address shared challenges through new trade tools, including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity and the U.S. – Japan Partnership on Trade.
Ambassador Tai’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
Hello, everyone. Thank you for having me here today. It’s always great to be back in Tokyo.
This is my fourth trip here as the U.S. Trade Representative. It speaks to the significance of the U.S. – Japan trade and economic relationship—not just for our two countries, but also for the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
This has been a very productive trip.
I’ve met with Minister Nishimura, Minister Hayashi and others to discuss how we can work more closely in the months ahead, including on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework negotiations.
Yesterday, I also enjoyed a visit to the Patagonia store in Shibuya, where I learned more about how the company is fighting back against the use of forced labor in its supply chains—which is an important priority for the United States.
Since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, our two governments have worked tirelessly to strengthen and deepen our bilateral relationship.
Our work to form the U.S. – Japan Partnership on Trade in November 2021 provided us with a valuable structure to convene regular dialogue on important trade issues. And since then, we have been able to deliver tangible results for our workers, small businesses, and producers on both sides of the Pacific.
In March 2022, we reached an agreement to increase the beef safeguard trigger level under the Partnership. The agreement came into force on January 1 of this year, and it will allow U.S. exporters to meet Japan’s growing demand for high-quality beef.
We are also working closely on energy trade.
Following extensive conversations that involved USTR, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Embassy here in Tokyo, the Government of Japan announced a new biofuels policy that will allow the United States to export more ethanol to Japan. This is a tremendous step toward a clean energy future.
These are important achievements, but our bilateral relationship goes much further than trade in goods—we are collaborating on emerging challenges to shape a better future for our people.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
We have all experienced the fragility of our dispersed supply chains in recent years, especially through the pandemic and Russia’s brutal, unjustified attack on Ukraine. And we’ve become too reliant on certain countries for the supply of critical minerals needed to fuel our clean energy future.
So, we worked with Japan to negotiate a critical minerals agreement to bolster our collective resilience and security.
The agreement covers a number of issues to reinforce supply chains—like commitments on export duties, non-market policies, best practices on investment screening, and labor rights. It also identifies areas for cooperation and promotes sustainability and transparency across EV battery supply chains.
I was pleased to sign the agreement in Washington with Ambassador Tomita. President Biden believes strongly that we can accomplish great things for our people when we work with our allies and partners, and we are doing just that.
This type of teamwork also applies to the task force we created to promote human rights and eliminate forced labor in global supply chains.
We launched the task force in January under the U.S. – Japan Partnership on Trade, and our teams have been meeting regularly to address this important issue.
Finally, Japan has been a critical partner in our efforts to advance the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, and my meetings here in Tokyo have focused extensively on this initiative. And in addition to meetings with government representatives, I met with several professors and think tank representatives this morning and talked about how we can use the framework to lift up all our people throughout the region.
Since we launched the IPEF here in Tokyo in May 2022, we have made good progress in negotiating across a number of areas that will deliver tangible results to our workers and businesses—including on trade facilitation, customs, and good regulatory practices.
We are also pursuing high-standard commitments with regard to labor, the environment, and digital trade, because we believe that trade should work for the common good and promote fair and healthy cooperation.
Japan has been an important partner throughout the negotiations, and we hope to announce a set of outcomes soon.
Our economies are comprised of more than just numbers—they are people. So, our bilateral relationship is focused on making our trade policies work for our people, not just today, but for years to come.
I look forward to continuing to work with Minister Nishimura and other colleagues to write a new story on trade—together.
Thank you again for having me.