U.S. makers of telecommunications equipment have long been clamoring to sell their products to Japan--the world's second-largest market after the United States. But their success so far has been sketchy at best.
So, this week, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp.--Japan's version of AT&T--came to Orange County to give U.S. telecommunications firms a few pointers on how to do business in Japan.
The Japanese telecommunications giant invited U.S. companies to a seminar on Monday and is doling out advice at its booth at the Supercomm '89 trade show at the Anaheim Convention Center this week.
NTT's effort is part of a strategy for helping ease trade tensions between the United States and Japan. U.S. companies have complained that the Japanese telecommunications market, which mostly means NTT, is not open to their products. The Japanese say that is not so.
"We would be happy to contribute to a relaxation of this trade problem . . . by establishing relationships with American companies," said Moriji Kuwabara, an NTT executive vice president.
To demonstrate its commitment to buying American, NTT officials noted that the company bought $366 million worth of equipment from foreign companies in 1988, about 90% of that from U.S. firms. Foreign purchases rose 33% overall in 1988, NTT said.
But American equipment makers point to the $2.2-billion telecommunications trade deficit the United States had with Japan in 1988. U.S companies say NTT's purchases are only a gesture to ease trade frictions between the two countries.
"U.S. companies have made only modest progress in penetrating the (Japanese) market," said Allen R. Frischkorn, president of the Telecommunications Industry Assn., a trade group.
NTT's purchases from U.S. companies actually declined as a percentage of NTT's total purchases, dipping from 3.9% in 1983 to 3.3% in 1987, according to Frischkorn.
"As long as Japan continues to account for the bulk of the telecommunications deficit, trade tensions are likely to continue," he said.