Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Takes Aim at Japan President Renews Provision to Target Unfair Traders

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Takes Aim at Japan President Renews Provision to Target Unfair Traders

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton drove home the message Thursday that he planned to get tough with Japan on trade by renewing his power to take broad action against countries that limit U.S. imports.

In an executive order, Clinton reinstated the "Super 301" process, which allows him to single out countries with unfair trade practices and target them for retaliation.

Super 301, which Congress set up as part of the 1988 Trade Act, was phased out in 1990. By renewing it, Clinton is trying to underscore that he means business on trade, analysts said.

"We have a dysfunctional trade relationship with Japan," said Michael Maibach, director of government affairs for Intel Corp., a major producer of semiconductor chips. "This is a signal to Japan that he intends to bring change to our relationship."

Super 301 is loathed by other countries, mainly because of the stigma it carries. Under the process, the president will single out for retaliation the worst of the worst among U.S. trading partners, or the nations with the most egregious trade barriers.

Although Clinton's administration made a point Thursday of not linking Japan to the renewal of Super 301, the action comes just three weeks after the failure of talks to establish a new framework for trade relations with Japan.

The administration has until Sept. 30 to decide which countries have the toughest trade barriers.

A Japanese spokesman, Seiichi Kondo, told Reuters News Service: "We regret the U.S. decision to revive Super 301. The government of Japan has decided to pursue its own initiative measures for further market opening. We are determined to exert our utmost efforts to this end, irrespective of today's moves."

Japan has long vowed to appeal any U.S. retaliation it considered unfair to GATT, the multilateral trade body.

Missouri's two leading congressional experts on trade - House Majority Leader Richard A. …

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