Lawmakers urge Trump to raise trade issues with Abe

Lawmakers urge Trump to raise trade issues with Abe
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Several groups of House and Senate lawmakers on Thursday called on President Trump to tackle major trade issues with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump will meet on Friday with Abe at the White House, and the two leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of topics from security to trade.

Ahead of the meeting, three groups of lawmakers sent letters urging Trump to discuss currency manipulation, the trade imbalance with Japan and barriers to U.S. automobiles among a slew of other trade issues in the context of a possible bilateral trade agreement. 

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The two leaders are expected to discuss the prospects of a bilateral trade agreement after Trump withdrew the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) last month. 

Sens. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate fails to get deal to speed up fight over impeachment rules The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial John Lewis to miss Martin Luther King Jr. Day event MORE (D-Mich.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Sunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Senate Democrat: 'Fine' to hear from Hunter Biden MORE (D-Ohio), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses Collins walks impeachment tightrope The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions MORE (R-Ohio), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMeadows says Trump told him he didn't threaten senators on impeachment vote Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Trump team to present case for about two hours on Saturday MORE (R-Mo.), and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillHow Citizens United altered America's political landscape #MidnightMoscowMitch trends amid criticism of McConnell's proposed impeachment trial rules The most expensive congressional races of the last decade MORE (D-Mo.) want Trump to make Japan’s "longstanding unfair" trade practices in the auto sector a priority for the bilateral meeting as well as questions about the value of Japan's currency, the yen. 

“We greatly appreciate the strong and lasting U.S. relationship with our ally,” the senators wrote.

"In particular, we urge you to address currency manipulation and auto-related non-tariff barriers," they wrote. 

A senior White House official said Thursday that a discussion of currency manipulation wasn’t high on the administration’s agenda, although it could come up in the course of two days of talks. 

“The U.S.-Japan auto-trade relationship hurts American companies and workers and should be addressed with urgency,” the senators wrote.

In a separate House letter, Reps. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who is co-chairwoman of the House Auto Caucus, said that Japan’s trade practices have led to a trade imbalance that has hurt American workers and businesses for decades.

“The U.S. must make it clear that any discussions of a bilateral agreement would address currency manipulation, eliminate all of the non-tariff barriers, include provisions to prevent new barriers, and link any U.S. tariff reduction to demonstrable opening of the Japanese market,” they said.

Last year the U.S. trade deficit with Japan was $69 billion, America's second largest trade deficit, the lawmakers said. 

"Unfortunately, the barriers to American autos in the Japanese market are deeply structural and shifting, and all negotiated agreements in the past have failed to change the market conditions for U.S. businesses," the House members wrote.

"Any increased investment in the U.S. by Japanese companies does not excuse the unfair treatment of U.S. exports to Japan."

In another letter, Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Mark PocanMark William PocanSanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa Sanders announces Iowa campaign swing with AOC, Michael Moore The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules MORE (D-Wis.) also urged Trump to address serious trade impediments facing American manufacturers in the Japanese market.

"While Japan is a very important ally to the United States, these unfair trade practices have had enormous, devastating impacts to the American manufacturing sector," they wrote.

U.S. car manufacturers sold 19,000 cars in Japan in 2015. During the same time, Japanese manufacturers sold 1.6 million cars in the United States, the lawmakers said.

"American workers deserve to have fair access for their products in the global market," they wrote.