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U.S. Agrees to Talk to Japan on Tariffs : Tokyo Trade Officials Due in Washington at Weekend; Baldrige Sees 'No Reprieve'

April 01, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Reagan Administration has granted a Japanese request for emergency consultations on $300 million in proposed sanctions on Japanese products scheduled to take effect later this month, officials said today.

A team of Japanese trade officials will come to Washington this weekend for talks with their counterparts in the State and Commerce departments and the office of U.S. Trade Representative Clayton K. Yeutter, government spokesmen said.

These low-level talks will be followed late next week by meetings between higher-ranking trade officials, said Gary Holmes, a spokesman for Yeutter.

While the talks are aimed at defusing an intensifying trade crisis between the two nations, U.S. officials have said it is unlikely that the proposed sanctions will be suspended.

Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige said Tuesday that there will be no "last-minute reprieve" from the tariffs.

3-Month Trial Period

"That doesn't mean that you couldn't come to some resolution," a spokesman for Baldrige, B. Jay Cooper, said today.

He said Baldrige is ready to propose that the tariffs be imposed for a three-month trial period,.

The tariffs, announced last Friday by President Reagan, would apply to a wide range of Japanese electronics products.

The duties are in retaliation for what the United States claims is Japanese refusal to live up to a trade agreement negotiated last summer on semiconductors.

As part of that pact, Japan promised to stop selling semiconductors, or computer chips, in the United States and other markets at prices far below their true value, and to give U.S. semiconductor makers more access to Japanese markets.

'Dumping' Semiconductors

The Administration contends that Japan is continuing to "dump" semiconductors in markets outside the United States and that it has refused to take steps to open Japanese markets to U.S. sales.

The government did not say how long the duties would last. Under Baldrige's plan, they would last just three months to give the United States time to determine whether Japan is living up to the trade agreement.

Meanwhile, the government plans to hold a public hearing April 13 to give the Japanese a chance to argue against the proposed sanctions, said Holmes, the spokesman for Yeutter.

The Administration published a list of Japanese products totaling $1.7 billion that might be targets of the sanctions. The April 13 hearing will also help the government whittle this list down to the $300 million the sanctions are designed to cover, Holmes said.

"We want to make sure impact on American consumers and businessmen and workers is minimized," Holmes said.

The tariffs are scheduled to take effect on or about April 17.

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