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Tokyo has responded to U.S. criticism of Japanese proposals for the coming round of World Trade Organization negotiations by presenting Washington with a list of counter-arguments that underscore the need for the inclusion of discussions on antidumping measures if the talks are to be a success, Japanese officials said Monday.

Over the objections of President Bill Clinton’s administration, Japan is pressing for the WTO to take up antidumping measures in the next round of global trade talks, expected to start with a meeting of WTO ministers in Seattle between Nov. 30 and Dec. 3.

Tokyo also announced on Oct. 20 the filing of a complaint with the WTO over the U.S. decision in June to impose dumping duties on Japanese hot-rolled steel, asking for bilateral consultations with Washington under the auspices of the WTO.

On Oct. 19, David Aaron, U.S. undersecretary of commerce for international trade, reportedly criticized Japan for having “no positive objectives” for the new round and for trying to prevent the talks by insisting on the need for the WTO to review the enforcement of antidumping provisions, while remaining “the greatest dumping country in the world.”

In the letter to Washington, dated Oct. 22, Hisamitsu Arai, MITI vice minister for international affairs, stated: “None of the accusations is in conformity with the facts. … The inclusion of antidumping issues on the agenda of the round will contribute to its successful launch at Seattle. I do not believe it will obstruct the process.”

Putting forward Tokyo’s position, Arai cited the needs of some 20 other WTO member states, including developing countries, which emphasize “the importance of strengthening and clarifying the disciplines applicable to the imposition of antidumping duties.”

Arai went on to point to a growing number of antidumping legal cases worldwide, more than 900 in over 20 countries as of the end of 1998, and said, “More WTO members, including the U.S., should be focusing on the issue of preventing antidumping abuses in the new round.”

While calling on the need for Tokyo and Washington to “redouble mutual efforts to ensure an unequivocal success” in the talks, Arai called for a comprehensive, three-year round of talks encompassing not only market access but WTO rules and disciplines, based on the principle of a single undertaking in order to balance interests among member economies.

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