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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) questioned William Hagerty, President Trump’s nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to Japan, on soda ash, beef exports and energy security. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held Hagerty’s confirmation hearing today.

On Soda Ash:

“The United States is the most competitive supplier of soda ash in the world because of the abundance of the raw material trona in our country.

“U.S. ‘natural soda ash’ is refined from the mineral trona. The Green River Basin in Wyoming has the world’s largest-known deposits of this naturally occurring trona.

“It is a key component of glass, detergents, soaps, chemicals. It’s also used in many other industrial processes.

“American soda ash has long been regarded as the standard of quality, purity, and energy efficiency in production.

“Currently, Japan, as we discussed, has a 3.3% tariff on natural soda ash imports.

“Eliminating the tariff on naturally sourced soda ash would benefit Japanese manufacturers as well as U.S. producers.

“Will you commit to me to work on eliminating Japan’s tariff on U.S. natural soda ash and help eliminating trade barriers and increasing exports to Japan for all U.S. industries a priority?

Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Mr. Hagerty on soda ash

On U.S. Beef Exports:

“Expanded trade is critical for the economic growth and competitiveness of our businesses, workers, farmers, ranchers.

“In December of 2003, Japan closed its market to U.S. beef imports after a Canadian-born dairy cow in Washington state tested positive for BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).

“At the time, Japan was the largest export market for U.S. beef, it was valued at over $1.4 billion a year for the United States.

“In 2006, Japan partially reopened their market to U.S. beef that’s aged 20 months and younger. They further eased restrictions in 2013 by increasing that age barrier to 30 months and younger.

“Despite these actions, American farmers and ranchers still operate at a competitive disadvantage in the Japanese markets.

“American farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality beef in the world. They have clear, consistent standards, we do here at home, for animal health, for food safety.

“Do you believe it is important to secure strong market access for U.S. beef and other important American commodities in Japan?

Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Mr. Hagerty on U.S. beef exports.

On Energy Security:

“The final question has to do with energy security.

“After Fukushima, all of Japan’s nuclear reactors were shut down.

“Since that time, Japan has been working to create a strategic energy mix.

“The country currently relies on imported coal, oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for more than 80 percent of its energy supply. And as we talked, I was just there a couple of weeks ago talking about energy in Japan.

“Strategically, Japan seeks to ensure its energy security by maintaining as diverse an energy portfolio as possible, in terms of both fuels as well as suppliers.

“Do you support the United States increasing our energy exports to Japan? And if confirmed, will you assist U.S. businesses and industries to gain greater access to Japanese markets?”

Click here for video of Sen. Barrasso questioning Mr. Hagerty on energy security.