The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a controversial trade bill meant to open Japanese and other markets to more United States imports of everything from cars to rice.

Japanese car manufacturers said it was a big step in the wrong direction, but US carmaker Chrysler called the measure a positive step. US car dealers who sell foreign cars said it could close doors instead of opening them.

President Bush's trade advisers have said they will recommend that the measure be vetoed if it passes the Senate.

The bill was passed by 280 to 145, short of the two-thirds necessary for Congress to override a presidential veto.

Meanwhile, Japan's trade ministry said yesterday that it would next week start implementing a new law designed to boost imports and foreign investment.

The law, passed by the Japanese parliament in March, is aimed at increasing imports through improving the infrastructure and easing foreign investment.

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