Annual Review of the 1995 U.S.-Japan Flat Glass Agreement

During the annual review of the 1995 U.S.-Japan flat glass agreement held on May 27-28 in Washington, D.C., U.S. officials complained that foreign access to Japan's flat glass market is still "severely limited." U.S. participants charged that Japanese glass distributors are not fully complying with Japan's Anti-Monopoly Act and offered a proposal to ameliorate problems the U.S. side identified with Japan's distribution system. In part, the U.S. proposed during the May meetings that Japanese firms educate mid-level employees about company antitrust compliance programs and move away from exclusionary business practices between suppliers and distributors.

Japanese participants rejected the U.S. proposal saying it would be inappropriate for the government to intervene in the market. A Japanese Embassy official said, "We don't perceive any illegal activities in the flat-glass market in Japan."

Briefing reporters after the talks, one U.S. official remarked, "We are totally disappointed and upset by the Japanese attitude." U.S. officials were encouraged, however, that the Japan Fair Trade Commission will soon begin a survey of the flat glass market to investigate whether exclusionary or anticompetitive business practices prevent foreign penetration of the market.

Progress was made on the insulated glass issue. Japan's Ministry of Construction is expected to announce energy efficiency standards early next year that will promote the use of insulated glass in building construction. U.S. officials believe these new construction standards could provide market opportunities for U.S. firms.