There is a footnote to the discussion of the TPP: One of Obama's favorite sales pitches for the pact is that it will be great for the US auto industry. If the TPP is passed, he claims, Ford Mustangs and Chevy pick-ups will be clogging the streets of Tokyo.
Last month he said "I don't know why folks would be opposed to opening up the Japanese market more for US autos" just before bringing out the "level the playing field" cliche.
The problem is, it just ain't true.
First off, Japan imposes no tariffs on US cars shipped to Japan. Rather, in what was an attempt to protect the US auto industry, there are US tariffs on cars imported from Japan - tariffs which would be reduced as part of the TPP. Which means that rather than opening Japan to US cars, it would further open the US to Japanese cars. You can argue whether that is a good thing or a bad one, but what you can’t claim is that it would help the US auto industry.
Oh, but there are so-called "non-tariff barriers" that keep US cars out of the Japanese market, insist the president's trade minions, and those will be dealt with as well.
What's more, auto industry analysts have long said that the real problem in expanding the US auto industry's presence in Japan is that the Japanese just do not want American cars, preferring smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles to the sort that Detroit insists on making, where words like "room," "performance," "power," and "luxury" hold sway.
Sen. Sherrod Brown observed that past trade deals promising jobs have failed to deliver time and again:
I've seen the same promises - more jobs, higher wages. The jobs don't materialize ... the promises are remade.This, it seems, is just another example.
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