The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has urged the Obama Administration to push Japan to eliminate its tariff rate quota (TRQ) on US made and branded leather footwear as part of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

In an open letter to President Barack Obama, the AAFA said Japan's longstanding footwear quotas have been a "significant and costly" barrier to US footwear companies trying to enter the Japanese market.

"We strongly believe the elimination of Japan's leather footwear TRQ should be part of your call for Japan to increase its ambition on market access and reducing barriers to trade as part of the TPP negotiations," said AAFA executive vice president, Steve Lamar.

Japan's leather footwear TRQ has been in place since 1952 and allows 12m imports of leather shoes annually at the normal duty rate. Once this is reached, a TRQ of JPY4,300 or 30% - whichever is the greater - is applied on all additional imports.

"We urge you to make the elimination of Japan's footwear TRQ a key priority of your and your administration's ongoing discussions with Japan on the TPP negotiations," Lamar added.

The AAFA expressed concern earlier this year that countries such as Japan would not support full market access.

In February, talks aimed at drawing up the TPP free trade agreement hit a number of "sticking points" including apparel and footwear.