Agreement Reached in New Export Policy

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a move that could boost exports by up to $1.25 billion over six years, the Justice Department got a British company to drop tactics that prevented U.S. companies from building glass making factories overseas.

The agreement with Pilkington plc, announced by Attorney General Janet Reno on Thursday, marked the first use of a new antitrust policy targeting foreign companies that restrict U.S. participation in world markets.

"This settlement will open new markets abroad for American businesses exporting high-tech services, and thereby create additional well-paying jobs for highly skilled American workers and professionals here at home," Reno told her weekly news conference.

Some 50 glass making factories are expected to be built during the next six years in China, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe, and up to half of them could be built by U.S. companies, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Robert Litan said. That would boost exports by $1.25 billion, he said.

Even the most minimal U.S. participation would push exports up by at least $150 million, Litan said.

The factories involved produce flat glass for windows in most of the world's automobiles and buildings, using float-bath technology, originally developed by Pilkington. Flat glass is a $15-billion-a-year industry, which the government said Pilkington dominates.

The new policy was adopted early in 1992 by the Bush administration and had been viewed as designed to attack Japanese market restrictions used to keep out U.S. companies.

Indeed, other foreign businesses are under investigation by Justice's antitrust division, Litan said, but he refused to name them or give their locations.

Under the new policy, the Justice Department will bring antitrust suits against foreign firms with U.S. subsidiaries when their actions violate U.S. law and harm U.S. participation in world trade. The previous policy, in effect from 1988 to 1992, had limited suits against foreign companies to cases in which U. …