U.S. and Japan Break Off Beef, Citrus Talks

From Reuters

The United States and Japan broke off talks over American beef and citrus exports on Tuesday night and Washington said it would ask the world trade body GATT to settle the protracted dispute.

“Regrettably the final Japanese proposal offered only a modest increase in access, and it would have left in place provisions that the United States considers to be incompatible with the GATT rules,” U.S. trade representative Clayton K. Yeutter said in a prepared statement.

Yeutter said the United States today would ask the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to form a panel to rule on Tokyo’s quotas on imports of beef, veal, oranges and orange juice.


Yeutter and Japanese Agriculture Minister Takashi Sato failed during five days of talks to resolve the increasingly contentious farm trade row.

Sato left the meetings with Yeutter late Tuesday evening without saying a word.

Yeutter said the Japanese showed a willingness to make some concessions but that they wanted to continue protecting domestic producers of beef and oranges with new barriers.

“Under the Japanese proposal, U.S. exporters and Japanese consumers would continue to bear the cost and burden of Japan’s insistence on constraining agricultural imports,” he said.

Japan blocked an initial U.S. request before the GATT council in April for a dispute panel. It was not clear whether Tokyo would take the unusual step of vetoing a second request when the world trade body meets today.

Unfortunate Timing

“We hope that Japan will live up to its international obligations and agree to this action,” Yeutter said, referring to the establishment of a GATT committee.

The failure by Yeutter and Sato to resolve the dispute was expected to irritate bilateral relations at a crucial time.

President Reagan is expected to veto a congressional trade bill that largely targets Japan for alleged unfair trading practices, but Congress will have a chance to try to override the veto.

It was unclear if some Republican senators from beef and citrus producing states might switch and vote for the bill.

The House vote for the trade bill was wide enough to assure an override of a veto in the House, but the Senate vote fell just short of the necessary two-thirds majority.

The breakdown in the trade talks raised other thorny problems for Tokyo, which would like to avoid an adverse GATT ruling but is under heavy pressure from politically powerful farm groups not to accede to U.S. demands.