Rep. James R. Jones (D-Okla.), chairman of a Ways and Means Committee U.S.-Japanese trade task force, warned Japan yesterday that protectionist legislation will come out of Congress unless the Japanese reverse their stand against liberalizing trade policies in the procurement area.
Japanese Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira has refused to enter into further talks with U.S. trade representative Robert S. Strauss on the issue.
"If the Japanese think that they can wait until Ambassador Strauss takes up his new Middle East assignment and that they will get a better deal from his successor . . . they are sadly mistaken," Jones said.
Jones said Congress is now demanding tough negotiations to lower the $11 billion trade deficit the United States has with Japan.
"If the administration doesn't get the job done, Congress surely will, and probably in a way that will not promote free trade," Jones said.
Jones said Congress would consider reciprocal restrictive trade policies such as standards or quote restrictions on Japanese telecommunications equipment and other items.
Rep. Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.), ranking minority member on Jones' task force, called the current trade disagreement the most serious impasse since he came to Congress nine years ago.
Jones added, "This morning's news that the Japanese have refused to budge any further on opening their markets for government procurement and semi-corporate purchases is very disappointing to those of us who want to promote free, open trade between our nations."