TOKYO�US Trade Rep. Charlene Barshefsky welcomed significant new Japanese energy deregulation measures achieved under the Third Joint Status Report of the US-Japan Enhanced Initiative on Deregulation and Competition Policy.
Under the agreement, signed at the Group of 8 (G8) Summit of leaders from the US, Japan, Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, and Russia July 21-23 in Okinawa, Japan agreed to a number of steps aimed at opening up its energy sector to foreign competition.
The measures include a pledge to fully implement and enforce measures designed to ensure fair, open, and nondiscriminatory access to its electricity transmission grid�the utility-owned network that is the only channel for transmitting electricity from one point to another in Japan.
Japan will also disclose information on the development of transmission rates by utilities so new firms seeking to compete in the market can determine if these rates are being set fairly.
To foster the shift from a monopoly to a competitive market in the electricity sector, Japan has agreed to eliminate its antitrust exemption for natural monopolies (including electricity and gas), enforce competition guidelines, and expand them as appropriate, and actively promote competition in this sector.
Japan has also agreed to establish a fair, transparent, and nondiscriminatory framework for access to its natural gas sector, set to be liberalized next year. Japanese representatives also agreed to review the results of these initial steps in 3 years, a move the US says it expects to lead to further liberalization of the energy sector.
US officials said the agreement means US firms will be able to produce, sell, and trade power in Japan's $135 billion electric power market. These reforms are also expected to create new opportunities for exports to Japan's $15 billion market for electrical generation equipment, as well as its growing energy services market.