U.S. Trade Representative William E. Brock yesterday told American firms to stop complaining about competition from imports and "get off of our ever-loving duff and start competing."

Brock, speaking before the Export-Import Bank's annual conference for U.S. commercial bankers, said U.S. firms shouldn't "spend all the time contemplating our navel or complaining about competition from somebody else in the world."

However, Brock also criticized the Japanese for protecting their industries from imports and then said American firms don't try hard enough to sell to them.

"I'm somewhat weary of being told by the Japanese that all American's have to do is work a little harder," Brock said. If the United States spent the same amount on defense as Japan does "we could balance the budget, cut taxes and have 8 percent interest rates."

Japan also has an obligation to do more than it is doing to help other nations, Brock continued. For example he said Japan "could make a tremendous contribution" to poor Caribbean nations "trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps."

Brock said his office hasn't yet formulated the administration's new Caribbean basin policy, therefore the president hasn't commented on it. Interagency work on the plan has been completed and his office is talking to Congress about it.