Japanese consul gives advice on trade

September 09, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Opportunities for American businesses to trade in Japan still exist, but the companies might have to work harder to meet the right contacts, a deputy consul general from Japan told Carroll County business leaders yesterday.

"Japanese companies do not always conduct the same kind of business as American companies," said Yutaka Yoshizawa, who also is the director of the Japan Information Center in New York. "Sometimes buyers stick to traditional suppliers. They don't jump at an offer."

Mr. Yoshizawa, who lived in Bethesda from 1985 to 1987 while working with the Japanese Embassy in Washington, came to Carroll County to bring Japan's view of economic and political relations with the United States.

His office, which works with states from Maryland to New York, is trying to schedule speaking engagements with as many business groups in those six states as possible, Mr. Yoshizawa said.

While acknowledging the $50 billion to $60 billion annual trade deficit between the United States and Japan, Mr. Yoshizawa said it is not caused by traditional barriers. "Our tariff level is the lowest between the developed countries. For the most part, we don't have quantity restrictions, except for items like rice."

Japan buys $50 billion worth of American goods each year, second only to Canada, Mr. Yoshizawa said.

"The important factor contributing to the trade imbalance is the poor performance of the Japanese economy," he said. "We have been in a recessionary state since 1991."

Some American manufacturers were not willing to adapt their products to Japanese standards, Mr. Yoshizawa said. Also, the Japanese are not as consumption-oriented as Americans, he said.

"There are some signs of change from a producer-oriented society to a consumer-oriented society," Mr. Yoshizawa said. "The large stores that are able to offer things more cheaply, such as the American Toys R Us, are popular. That shows there will be change."

Service-oriented businesses -- computer software, international investment and insurance companies -- are more likely to do well in Japanese markets, Mr. Yoshizawa said. "American companies are more advanced than a number of Japanese companies" in these areas, he added.

Japanese consumers also are seeking high quality houses and furnishings, he said.

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