Fuji flays U.S. review of trade barriers Kodak has alleged unfairness in Japan

April 06, 1996|By BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS

WASHINGTON -- Fuji Photo Film, citing "glaring flaws" in an annual U.S. review of foreign trade barriers, yesterday renewed its call for a neutral fact-finding mechanism to resolve allegations that Japan's market for photographic film isn't open to foreign competition.

A National Trade Estimate report released this week "provides a one-sided picture of market conditions in Japan," Fuji Film lawyer Bill Barringer said in a letter delivered to U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor.

The NTE report is based entirely on the "uncritical acceptance of Kodak's allegations rather than any objective investigation of hotly disputed facts," Mr. Barringer said in his letter to Mr. Kantor.

The annual report called on Japan to begin government-to-government talks with the United States to develop a framework agreement to open Japan's photographic market.

Rochester, N.Y.-based Eastman Kodak Co. alleges that Fuji Photo Film, in collusion with the Japanese government, has locked up more than 80 percent of Japan's lucrative photo market, denying foreign companies a fair share.

The United States began a Section 301 trade investigation to determine whether Kodak's claims are warranted. The year-long probe is to be completed in July.

Japan has refused to discuss the issue with U.S. officials, saying the matter should be referred to a World Trade Organization panel. The U.S. government and Kodak want Washington and Tokyo to hold talks to resolve the issue.

Fuji said the report contains several "factual distortions," citing statements regarding distribution systems, the availability of Kodak film, and price competition in the Japanese market. "In sum, on one critical factual issue after another, the NTE report presents only one side of the story -- Kodak's side," Mr. Barringer said.

Pub Date: 4/06/96

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