Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton, Murayama Stand Firm on Trade

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton, Murayama Stand Firm on Trade

Article excerpt

Warning that American jobs are on the line, President Bill Clinton refused to back down Thursday in a trade fight with Japan that loomed over the start of a seven-nation economic summit meeting. Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, also standing his ground, said the two allies should not conduct business "with both of our fists raised."

"I am determined to carry through efforts to open Japan's markets," Clinton said after his 90-minute discussion with Murayama.

Both leaders expressed hope that negotiations, due to resume next week in Geneva, would produce a breakthrough. Both also said they had ordered their negotiators to redouble efforts to reach an agreement to head off a damaging trade war.

But Clinton said bluntly that without a market-opening accord, he would impose record trade sanctions against Japan on June 28. Previously, he had vowed to impose a 100 percent tariff on imports of Japanese luxury cars.

"I did not, and I will not, agree to extend the deadline," Clinton said. He said he and Murayama had agreed that the rift should not undermine cooperation between the two nations in other areas.

Clinton added that he and Murayama had had a "frank and open exchange of views" on their trade differences - diplomatic jargon for basic disagreement. Speaking at a joint news conference, Murayama responded that Japan would refuse to recognize the U.S. sanctions, saying they were not valid under international trade rules.

The American-Japanese trade tension was among a host of problems hanging over the 21st annual meeting of the Group of Seven industrial nations - the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.

The leaders exchanged smiles and handshakes and talked of lofty goals, such as revising the 51-year-old International Monetary Fund to better handle Mexican-style crises. But they were beset by tension ranging from the sudden decision by France to resume nuclear testing to the intractable conflict in Bosnia.

After dinner, the leaders issued an appeal for the Bosnian government and the Serb rebels to declare a moratorium on fighting and consider peace proposals.

"At a time when all information indicates that there is a danger of renewed intensification of fighting in Bosnia, in particular in Sarajevo, we send out to all parties a strong call for the greatest restraint," the leaders said in a statement. …

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