Japan to Increase Imports From Indiana

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JAPAN wants more products from Indiana. Under a first-of-a-kind agreement signed Friday, Japan and Indiana will work together to boost the state's exports to the island nation. The agreement is one of the measures in Japan's new Import Expansion Plan, which is designed to cut that country's trade surplus with the United States and other nations.

Japanese officials say they want to use Indiana as a model for similar arrangements in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and North America (including 13 to 15 other US states). Texas has already contacted Indiana about the new agreement with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the external representative for Japan's powerful Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

The plan calls for: a database to link Indiana exporters with Japanese importers; a permanent JETRO trade specialist to help businesses identify and export new products; and greater coordination of Japanese buying missions to the US and Indiana selling missions to Japan.

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``This cooperative working agreement can go a long way toward cementing relations not only between Indiana and JETRO, but also between our two countries,'' says Teruaki Mizunoue, JETRO's president.

US officials have criticized Japan in the past for not living up to trade agreements. Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh (D), who pushed hard to get the pact, says the new database will provide hard evidence about whether the program is working. Indiana's Japanese exports are currently running at more than $500 million a year.

In an interview, however, Mr. Mizunoue seemed more interested in creating individual examples of export success rather than boosting the overall export figures. Japanese businessmen here say they are hard pressed to find new products Japan might want beyond the chemicals, pharmaceuticals, vehicles, and other machinery Indiana now sells to their country.

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