Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Clinton Accuses 44 Nations of Unfair Trade Barriers

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Clinton Accuses 44 Nations of Unfair Trade Barriers

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Clinton administration accused 44 countries Wednesday of using unfair trade barriers to keep American products from being sold in their markets.

As it has in previous years, Japan led the list of alleged infractions followed by the 12-nation European Community and China.

The report, prepared by the office of U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor, is the first step in a process that ultimately could lead to trade sanctions if the administration decides to open formal investigations on any of the allegations it has made.

The 275-page report covered the gamut of trade practices the United States considers offensive to American producers from Japan's near-total ban on rice imports to what the administration charged was improper protection of U.S. copyrights and patents by the government of Venezuela.

In releasing the report, Kantor took a hard bargaining stance, saying that the new administration intended to "expand trade through market opening measures backed by the rigorous enforcement of U.S. laws."

President Clinton, during last year's campaign, accused the Bush administration of failing to aggressively attack foreign trade barriers. The current administration's approach to the annual inventory of trade barriers is therefore being anxiously watched by governments around the world.

"We believe that the markets of our trading partners should be comparably open to those in the United States," Kantor said in a statement accompanying the report.

He said this would be accomplished by firm negotiating to open foreign markets and beef up enforcement of intellectual property rights protection in other nations.

Ira Shapiro, general counsel for the trade office, told reporters that no decisions had been made on whether to open up investigations on any of alleged abuses cited in the report and that the first such announcements would not come until April 30.

Japan's alleged barriers took up 28 pages in the report, a 47 percent increase from last year's document. Alleged barriers by the European Community covered 16 pages, down from 17 pages in last year's report. …

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