U.S. President Barack Obama received a letter from 27 U.S. Senators on March 8, 2011, offering support of the administration’s efforts to expand the presence of U.S. businesses and exports in the Asia-Pacific region through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Most recently, Japan expressed interest in joining the TPP, causing the policymakers to extend cautious optimism to the president. First of all, the senators noted the importance of expanding market access into important economies such as Japan, but they also referred to the history of the U.S., Japan trade relationship.

“It is also encouraging that the leaders of the Japanese government have expressed their interest in joining the TPP and thus eliminating their tariff and non-tariff trade barriers to U.S. goods and services,” the senators penned. “However, given Japan’s historical intransigence in allowing market access for American agricultural goods, we write to express reservations regarding Japan’s inclusion in these negotiations until certain conditions are met. In addition to prohibitively high tariffs on many agricultural goods, Japan has discriminated against U.S. beef imports with restrictions that are inconsistent with international standards and not based on scientific criteria.”