Europe will not seek to extend its agreement with Japan on voluntarily restraining Japanese automobile exports, European Union Ambassador Jorn Keck said Wednesday.The departing ambassador was speaking at a farewell news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo. “I don’t know how to prolong this agreement,” Keck said of the vaguely defined agreement, which expires Dec. 31, 1999. Clarifying the remark for an apparently confused interpreter, Keck put some Japanese to use and said, “It’s ‘owari’ (over).”World Trade Organization rules call for eliminating such special arrangements as voluntary export restraints by the end of next year. However, the auto industry and some members of the French Parliament have been calling for the arrangement to be extended, a Japanese government official said.Meanwhile, commenting on the recent revelation of yet more collusive relations between the Japanese financial industry and government bureaucrats, Keck said that further deregulation will change the situation. At the same time, he stressed the need to implement stronger supervisory and competition policies.”What you do want to avoid is, to the extent government regulation goes away, that the private sector starts to organize itself in an uncompetitive way,” he said. “While deregulation goes ahead, supervision and competition must be strengthened,” he said. “And I think it will take care of the problem.”
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