US, Japan Make Breakthrough On Trade Talks

THE US and Japan reached a compromise that will allow both sides to resume market-opening talks that had been suspended for the past three months.

The compromise, wrapped up May 24, would have Japan acknowledge that measurable results were needed in the various sectors where the United States is trying to boost sales, a US official said. In exchange, the US would assure Japan that it will not rely solely on numerical targets in judging whether Japan is living up to its commitments.

The settlement will allow the US and Japan to resume the ``framework talks'' that were launched by both countries with much fanfare last July. The framework accord was hailed by the Clinton administration as the start of a new results-oriented era in US-Japanese trade relations that would make a sizable dent in the huge US trade deficit with Japan. But from the beginning, both sides argued over exactly what had been agreed to.

The differences became so great that the talks collapsed altogether on Feb. 11 at a heated summit between President Clinton and then-Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa. The dispute revolved around a US demand that any new market-opening agreements contain numerical benchmarks for measuring progress in boosting US sales. The Japanese blasted this approach as managed trade.

The administration has toned down its rhetoric in recent weeks in an effort to pacify financial markets, which earlier this month sent the dollar skidding to near-record lows against the Japanese yen. Investors feared an all-out trade war. The US no longer insisted that all four of the initial sectors - autos and auto parts, medical equipment, telecommunications products, and insurance - be completed by a specific date. Keeping the draft

THE US House defeated legislation to end registration for the draft while voting to penalize universities that bar military recruiting on campuses because of the military's ban on gays.

Lawmakers, in a 273-125 vote May 24, rejected the argument that registration of 18-year-olds for the draft was no longer needed in the post-Cold War period.

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