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Trading With Japan

May 10, 1985



I enjoyed Joseph C. Harsch's column (``Opening Japanese markets -- a job for the dollar'') April 2, even though I found an inconsistent emphasis on the foreign exchange rate of the dollar. He mentions that US sales to Japan have ``actually increased in spite of the high cost of US goods'' and that the US is losing foreign markets elsewhere because the dollar is high against all other currencies. He summarizes the problem, ``The deficit has widened not because the Japanese have been buying less from the US, but because the US has been buying more from Japan.''

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Shouldn't this be the primary concern, to continue all protection methods and maybe even implement more until the United States can break down some of the ``barriers'' to American goods in foreign markets? Then maybe the deficit will narrow, the interest rate on dollars will go down, the dollar will devaluate to an amount competitive with other currencies and thus remove the problem of the trade imbalance. Toni Jae Ianniello Richmond, Va.

Your tame stance may win diplomatic praise, but it falls short in economic sense, ``Fairer trade -- not retaliation,'' April 4. The issue is simple; Japan has a huge trade surplus while the US has a huge trade deficit. Trade restrictions are not the only important factor, but they should not be so quickly refuted. Trade restrictions can exist without trade wars; just look at Japan!

The editorial mentions that even top-quality, competitive United States products have a hard time getting into Japanese markets. That is protectionism. Meanwhile, President Ronald Reagan has just lifted restrictions on imports and the Japanese are taking full advantage of the situation. This hardly looks like a trade war to me.

I believe the US and European leaders should have gone to Bonn with actions they would take unless Japan decides to trade fairly. With a $37 billion trade deficit with Japan on the way up, the US cannot afford to wait to see if Japan will start reciprocating in world trade. Peter Hutson Richmond, Va.

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