WASHINGTON – A 1999 Japan-U.S. pact on purchases of goods by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. will probably expire at the end of June without any extension, ending a 20-year practice of promoting Japanese procurement of foreign telecommunications tools through trade accords, Japanese officials said Thursday.
The two countries are scheduled to hold a followup meeting on the pact in Tokyo next Thursday, but Japan has no plans to extend it or sign a new agreement, they said.
Among major bilateral trade agreements, those on flat glass and autos have expired.
NTT’s purchase of foreign goods has risen 40-fold from 20 years ago and it is inappropriate for the government to be involved in private-company deals, the officials said.
Within the U.S. government, however, there are calls for continued dialogue on the issue because a majority of NTT shares are still held by the Japanese government, they said.
The two countries may discuss the issue under a new framework for bilateral economic talks that is expected to be adopted by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and U.S. President George W. Bush when they meet June 30 at Camp David, Md.
Japan and the United States first signed an agreement in 1981 to boost procurement of foreign telecommunications products by NTT’s predecessor company through fair competitive bids.
The accord was extended on six occasions, during which time the public corporation was privatized into NTT in 1985, though the government still holds a 45.9 percent stake.
With the expiration of the extended accord in 1999, the two countries signed a new two-year agreement under which the two governments monitored NTT purchases.
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