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Japan to talk at WTO

The Japanese government has agreed to take part in talks at the World Trade Organization over Eastman Kodak Co.’s charges that its photographic film and paper market unfairly shuts out foreign competition.
The Reuters news agency today reported that a Japanese Trade Ministry official said Japan will discuss two of three points on which the U.S.

Japan to talk at WTO

The Japanese government has agreed to take part in talks at the World Trade Organization over Eastman Kodak Co.’s charges that its photographic film and paper market unfairly shuts out foreign competition.
The Reuters news agency today reported that a Japanese Trade Ministry official said Japan will discuss two of three points on which the U.S. government is seeking WTO action.
The United States last week asked the WTO to take up the issue. Earlier, Kodak CEO George Fisher had asked Congress to impose unilateral sanctions on Japan and Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd., claiming that the Japanese government and Fuji have long conspired to shut Kodak out of Japanese consumer markets.
While sending the matter to the WTO was short of what Fisher first asked for, Fisher praised the U.S. move as a positive development.
Analysts say Kodak has grown its market share in Japan over past year despite government-sanctioned trade and market barriers. Factors they cite as boosting Kodak’s share of the Japanese film market are shared-label programs with Japanese retailers that Kodak started last year and increased consumer demand for price competition in a slowing Japanese economy.
Issues on which the Japanese government says it will negotiate at the WTO relate to laws governing large stores and premiums.
It has not closed out the possiblity of discussing the third matter raised by the United States–restrictive private-sector business practices–but says it wants more specifics from the U.S. government before it agrees.
Kodak claims that Fuji’s agreements with retailers hamstring Kodak distribution efforts in Japan.
Bilateral talks on the first two points should get under way in two to three weeks, the Reuters report says.

RBJ Daily 6-25-96

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