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Bonn and Tokyo Back U.S. Call for New Trade Talks

May 02, 1985|DON COOK | Times Staff Writer

BONN — West Germany and Japan on Wednesday gave their support to the U.S. call for a new round of international trade talks.

Their action further isolated the French on this key issue, which will be taken up at the seven-nation economic summit conference that gets under way here today.

After bilateral talks in advance of the conference, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone issued a statement warning against protectionist measures and supporting the Reagan Administration's call for a summit commitment to start negotiations.

"I want this (the talks) as early as possible in 1986," Nakasone said, with Kohl nodding assent. "The development of world economy depends on the steady growth of world trade. The long tradition of free trade has contributed to prosperity, but it is like a glass vase that could easily break. If we cannot begin a new round of trade talks next year, then there is only uncertainty after the Tokyo Round." The agreements from that round run out in 1988.

French President Francois Mitterrand will be attempting in the next two days here to link a new round of trade talks to an agreement to undertake a review of the international monetary system at the same time.

Mitterrand's only backer for this linkage of the trade and monetary questions appears to be Jacques Delors, president of the Commission of the European Economic Community. Delors, a former French finance minister, will be taking part in the economic discussions here with the seven heads of government.

Before leaving Washington for Bonn, Secretary of State George P. Shultz warned that if there is no decision to go ahead on multilateral trade talks, the United States "will proceed on its own" with a series of bilateral negotiations.

In particular, U.S. trade officials believe that there is scope for Pacific basin trade negotiations outside the framework of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Reagan and Mitterrand will meet this afternoon, and the issue is considered likely to dominate their discussions. American officials said they expect the French to agree to allowing planned preparatory work for a new round of trade talks to go ahead later this summer but are likely to refuse to agree here to fix even a target date in 1986 for the start of the negotiations.

As for Japan's bilateral trade relations with Europe, which are almost as much of a problem for Europe as Japan's vast export surplus is for the United States, Nakasone pledged to Kohl that "you can rest assured that the Japanese economy will become more open than it used to be."

However, Hans Tietmeyer, an official of the West German Finance Ministry, warned Nakasone that Japan appears to be favoring the United States at the expense of Europe in the measures it has taken so far to improve its overall trade balance. Tietmeyer said this could increase protectionist pressures within the European Community.

Hiromoto Seki, a Japanese spokesman who briefed the press on the West German-Japanese talks, said Japan has recognized its responsibility to cut its huge surplus and that he does not believe Japan will be made a scapegoat at the summit conference. He said this is not an appropriate setting for mutual recriminations.

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