Kodak Acts to Back Up Trade Complaint : Japan: Company files 1,100 pages of data it says shows Fuji, government are blocking it from market.
Eastman Kodak Co. filed a two-volume set of documents with the U.S. government Monday to bolster its case that American photographic products are in effect being kept out of the lucrative Japanese market.
In the 1,100 pages of data, Kodak seeks to document its allegations that rival Fuji Photo Film Co., with the aid of the Japanese government, is excluding Kodak and other foreign film manufacturers from 70% of the Japanese market.
But Fuji said the allegations in Kodak’s newest petition are just as groundless as the initial complaint Kodak filed on the issue in May.
“It is clear to us that Kodak is determined to substitute page count for real evidence in its ongoing attack on Fuji film,” said William Barringer, an attorney representing Fuji. “The fact that Kodak felt the need to bury [the government] with an additional 1,000 pages shows that Fujifilm has succeeded in exposing the weakness of Kodak’s initial case.”
U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor opened an investigation of Kodak’s charges in July under a portion of U.S. trade law known as Section 301. This provision calls for negotiations between the two countries in an effort to remove the alleged trade barriers and the imposition of punitive tariffs against Japanese products if the talks are unsuccessful.
However, the Japanese government has refused to open formal discussions, contending that Kodak should have brought its allegations before the Japanese Fair Trade Commission rather than the U.S. government.
George M.C. Fisher, chief executive of Kodak, said many outside experts have already called Kodak’s case the “best-documented market-access case in recent history.”
He said the new filing is “supported by more than 100 exhibits and Japanese-language references, providing the U.S. government with independent, third-party corroboration of the facts presented in our initial petition.”
The Kodak filing cites specific Japanese government directives that Kodak alleges have helped Fuji gain exclusive control of the four main photographic distributors in Japan and allowed it to keep prices for film and photographic paper higher than the rest of the world.
“Prices for photographic film and paper in Japan are 1.5 to four times higher than other major markets and in many cases have not fluctuated for several years. Such high, stable prices suggest the lack of a freely operating market,” Kodak contends.