U.S. to seek renewal of paper pact

The United States is poised to make a formal request to Japan soon for renewal of a bilateral agreement on expanding foreign access to the Japanese paper market.

Gordana Earp, deputy assistant for industry at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, said Mar. 7 that the U.S. will make its proposal on what to do after the existing paper agreement expires April 4, according to an official of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The remark was made at the end of a two-day meeting here between U.S. and Japanese trade officials to review the existing agreement. The meeting was cochaired by Earp and Hiroaki Taneoka, director of MITI’s pulp, paper and printing industry division.

During the meeting, the U.S. said it remains dissatisfied with the results of the existing agreement, according to the Japanese official. Although the U.S. delegates did not make any specific proposals, they expressed their intention to do so in due time, the official said.

Meanwhile, in a statement released after the meeting, the U.S. delegation said the U.S. is seeking to work with the Japanese government to develop “new or modified measures” that will effectively address continuing market access problems and encourage import expansion. U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky also said Mar. 6 in Washington that the U.S. does not hope for continuation of an agreement that does not properly function, suggesting the possibility that the U.S. may call for a new and reinforced agreement. Japanese officials, however, contend that the existing agreement has achieved its intended results and thus believe that paper and paperboard trade should be left to market forces.