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U.S. Senators Mike Enzi, John Barrasso and Congresswoman Liz Cheney, all R-Wyo., urged U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to prioritize eliminating the Japanese tariff on U.S. natural soda ash during the U.S.-Japan trade agreement negotiations.

While the United States currently supplies nearly 50 percent of the Japanese soda ash market, from 2014 to 2017, U.S. exports of natural soda ash to Japan decreased by 2 percent while Chinese exports of synthetic soda ash to Japan increased by 73 percent.

In their letter, legislators emphasized how eliminating the Japanese tariff of 3.3 percent on soda ash could help increase U.S. production and support the more than 20,000 well-paying direct and indirect jobs in America.

Synthetic soda ash is lower quality and less environmentally friendly than U.S. natural soda ash, yet China has been steadily increasing its exports of synthetic soda ash to Japan,” the letter said. “Eliminating the 3.3 percent duty would help U.S. soda ash exports to compete more fairly in Japan and prevent further market share erosion. In addition, greater soda ash exports would contribute towards reducing the United States’ nearly $70 billion trade deficit with Japan.”

Soda ash is a basic raw material required to manufacture other basic commodities such as glass and detergents, accounting for roughly 60 percent of the raw material cost for glass production and 15 to 30 percent of the raw material cost for detergent manufacturing.

Soda ash deposits in the Green River basin in Wyoming could supply the world’s requirements for soda ash for hundreds of years.