Sato to take up supercomputers

Trade chief Shinji Sato said Apr. 4 that he will take up the issue of the U.S. government procurement of supercomputers when he visits the United States later this month.

“From what I’ve been hearing from my staff concerning the dumping charge against NEC Corp., I have a feeling that U.S. government procurement might be closed to foreign products,” Sato said at a news conference. Sato is scheduled to meet with U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley and U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky in Washington ahead of a quadrilateral meeting of trade ministers from Japan, Canada, the European Union and the U.S. in Toronto.

The U.S. Commerce Department announced earlier this week its decision to impose preliminary antidumping duties of 454 percent on imports of NEC supercomputers. The preliminary ruling supported a petition filed by U.S. supercomputer maker Cray Research Inc. last July about the U.S. National Science Foundation’s decision to purchase four NEC’s supercomputers.

The federally funded foundation has subsequently suspended the decision over the contract, which would have been the first procurement of Japanese-made supercomputers by any U.S. federal agency.