The United States and Japan yesterday agreed to establish a new, high-level council to improve trade relations between the two countries and to help ease the U.S. trade deficit with Japan, according to the Commerce Department.
The agreement followed a morning meeting between Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige and Japanese Trade and Industry Minister Rokusuke Tanaka.
The new council will be part of the U.S.-Japan Facilitation Committee, started in 1977 to solve market access problems faced by U.S. businesses exporting to Japan. The council will hold its first meeting in Washington in September, and will be cochaired by Commerce Undersecretary Lionel H. Olmer and Japanese Vice Minister Shohei Kuirhara.
During the meeting yesterday, Baldrige paraised recent statements by Tanaka, committing Japan to new efforts to increase importing of manufactured products. Tanaka also had urged the Japanese business community to increase such imports.
Balrige also stressed that the United States must reduce its trade deficit with Japan, which is expected to reach a record $13 billion to $14 billion this year. U.S. officials have most recently complained about Japanese barriers to agricultural imports, particulary beef and citrus products.
On another sensitive trade issue, Balrige said in an interview that the Commerce Department will make a decision within 60 days on the first of several requests by European steelmakers to ship steel to this country at prices below the government's "tigger-price" levels.
The European producers requests for permission to export low-cost steel to the United States are seen by the American industry as a crucial test of Reagan administration trade policy on steel. American steel officials say there is no way European producers can export steel to trigger-price level without the use of illegal subsidies.