The so-called Japanese trade imbalance problem, of course, is not a problem with Japan alone. The problem exists with other countries (often for different reasons) such as China and Korea.
Other than the fact that there are conditions which has arise in these countries which have caused the unfavorable balance of trade from the standpoint of the United States, the problem of permitting that problem to conti nue and grow is really one which is created by the United States. It seems to me that the Japanese problem, as I call it, is the willingness (or eagerness) to keep the problem at a political level rather than a legal level.
Thus, we have one or two persons in the United States (the President's trade negotiators) with a few assistants attempting to deal with the problem from time to time, in Tokyo or Washington, D.C.
This may not seem inherently unsound or nonworkable, but from what I've been reading, it seems as if the U.S. negotiators are only looking out for U.S. auto, film, used car parts and computer chip, rather than all industr ies in the U.S. needing such assistance.
In other words, for whatever political considerations are involved, the president's negotiators are trading off the rights of most industries in the U.S. to favor a limited few.
It seems that this obviously is wrong, and the cure which comes to mind seems most obvious, which is what prompted me to write the following letter to Business Week and Crain's New York Business, neither of which (I belie ve) read or published my letter:
Dear Ms. Himelstein:
In response to BW's 7/17/95 (p. 1040 editorial entitled The New Protectionism: How to Fight It I would like to suggest that free enterprise be given the opportunity, and take the ball away from the politicians (who apparently are concerned about only a part of the economy, such as auto parts, film, chips).
The way to do this would be to add a section to the Sherman Act or perhaps Robinson-Patman Act which would create standards to be followed for goods being imported into the United States, such as:
(i) Not made with prison labor;
(ii) Comparable product sold in home country by manufacturer at comparable price;
(iii) Financing of the manufacturer is at competitive rates available to U.S. companies; and
(iv) Manufacturer effectively competes for the highest quality suppliers at the lowest price, regardless of the country of origin of such supplier. If these suggested standards were enacted into law, persons like myself (as an antitrust lawyer) could take over as the enforcers of U.S. policy.
See, for example, my litigation against Hasbro, in which various market domination practices are being overcome by court proceedings even though the U.S. government refused to stop the latest acquisition which gave Hasbro a 90% market share of the family board game market. I enclose a copy of the 2nd amended complaint and the federal court's recent decision upholding many of the claims made in the plaintiff's complaint.
Incidentally, this battle is round two in a famous legal battle between ANTI-MONOPOLY and MONOPOLY, where the focus has now shifted from validity of trademarks to the issue of monopolizing the sub-market for family board games and the sub-sub-market of monopoly-type board games. If you are interested in more information about this story, please call.
If the standards under which the U.S. permits goods [and services, a more difficult problem] to be brought into the United States were put into a statute, then business victims of the trade imbalance could go into court a nd seek relief without waiting for the President and his negotiating team to get around to making a relief attempt. Also, it should be noted that the President's negotiating team doesn't seem to be making much headway an yway for the U.S. industries being favored by the President.
It seems instead that the President's policy is one of favoring the foreign countries which make use of the vast integrated market of the United States, and simultaneously taking away U.S. jobs and business opportunities in the process.
The basis for any type of willful policy such as this most be in votes and campaign contributions, and the cure would seem to be in legislation which enables each victim to seek his/her own relief.
I invite any comments you may have.
You can make them by telephone (212-307-4444), fax (212-307-0247) or by e-mail (email@example.com).
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