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U.S.-Japan Talks on Chips Continue as Deadline Nears

June 28, 1986|DONNA K. H. WALTERS | Times Staff Writer

Negotiations between U.S. and Japan government officials on semiconductor trade issues continued late Friday afternoon in Washington, officials said, a sign of mounting pressure on the Japanese to reach an agreement.

According to spokesmen for U.S. Trade Representative Clayton K. Yeutter, the sessions were likely to continue into the weekend.

The pressure is on both sides, but especially the Japanese, to settle the complex trade dispute by Monday, the last day on which the U.S. Commerce Department could move to suspend its final determination on one of two pending cases that claim that semiconductors from Japan were sold below fair market value in this country.

Any settlement would apply not only to the dumping cases but also to the unfair trade practices charges filed against the Japanese by an industry trade group seeking access to Japan's market. It is a rare example of two sections of U.S. trade law being brought to bear in tandem against a trading partner.

In late May, the negotiations produced a "framework" for an agreement, but industry officials privately have said the Japanese are balking at proposed guidelines for increasing U.S. companies' share of the Japanese market.

As of late Friday, industry experts were saying the chances were slightly better than even that a definitive agreement could be reached this weekend.

The semiconductor cases, partly because of the timing of the rulings, have become a focal point for recent U.S.-Japan trade relations.

Industry officials have called the preliminary rulings the government's most decisive stand against dumped goods in two decades and believe that the chip cases will set important precedents.

Semiconductors, also known as integrated circuits, are the "brains" of most computers and computerized machines. The chips, as they are called, control products ranging from dishwashers to energy systems for an entire buildings.

In the United States, semiconductor making is a $10-billion annual industry,and the chips are a crucial element in almost every segment of the $120-billion high-technology and electronics industry.

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