The United States and Japan have agreed to establish a working committee "to resolve a broad range of high-technology issues," Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige announced yesterday.
Officials cautioned that, although they hope that the committee will solve many pressing problems between the two countries, the agreement spelled out yesterday is in principle only and the exact mission of the committee is yet to be spelled out.
"There is no more important matter on our trade agenda than the resolution of high-technology trade issues between the U.S. and Japan," Baldrige said. "The future of U.S. industrial competitiveness is inseparably linked to the health of our high-technology industries."
One current pressing problem is Japanese acquisition of 80 percent of the U.S. market for the state-of-the-art 64K random access memory computer chip, according to Commerce Department officials.
U.S. officials said yesterday they hope the new committee--set up at the deputy assistant secretary level--will tackle problems of industrial cooperation, access to government-sponsored research and development, the flow of patents and technology, and mutual market access.
Cochairmen of the U.S. delegation will be Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce Clyde V. Prestowitz and Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative James Murphy. Other U.S. government agencies will be represented.
During two days of talks here with officials of the Japanese Ministry of Industry and International Trade preceding yesterday's announcement, American officials continued to urge that Japan liberalize present restrictions on imports.
Undersecretary of Commerce Lionel Olmer proposed that the Japanese consider establishing a high-level mechanism to promote foreign investment in Japan and also urged consideration of "a longer-term program to address differences of industrial organization and business practices."
Olmer referred to Japanese business practices that he said inhibit the flow of imports into that country and said that "a high-level commitment" was necessary to deal with them.
He was referring to the charge made by many U.S. government officials that some Japanese trade barriers to imports are set by "administrative guidance," or by cartels established to protect depressed industries. The charge is also made in industry and government circles here that much of Japan's export success can be traced to "targeting practices," which concentrate an export drive on a particular market or product.