Other Trade News in Brief

Film and Auto Reports Overdue. U.S. government officials have indicated that the first semiannual review of the Japanese film market will be released shortly. This report will be the product of coordination and sharing of information between Kodak and various U.S. agencies (including USTR and the Department of Commerce). The report, which was requested by Congress through a resolution passed earlier this year, aims at forcing Japan to abide by the representations it made to the WTO during the Kodak-Fuji film dispute. The report was scheduled to be released July 15.

In addition, USTR is scheduled to release its next review of the U.S.-Japan auto agreement as early as today.

Investigation of Stainless Steel Dumping Cases Continues. The International Trade Commission (ITC) voted Friday to continue investigating whether companies in Japan and seven other countries dumped stainless steel plate and strip. In a 3-0 vote the ITC found enough evidence of injury to U.S. industry to continue the investigation.

Senate Finance Committee Approves Fast Track. On July 21, the Senate Committee on Finance passed a package of trade measures, including a restoration of fast-track negotiating authority for the President. President Clinton, however, continued his criticism of linking fast track with the Africa and Caribbean Basin trade measures, as the Senate Finance Committee has done, or to the International Monetary Fund funding bill, as suggested by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Speaking with reporters last week, the President said "if we bring it up in a bill that also has the International Monetary Fund or the Africa Trade bill or the Caribbean Basin Initiative -- all of which I think are good for America -- the impact would be, in all probability, to kill them all and to make it even harder to pass fast track early next year."

Some Democrats have accused the Republicans of pressing for a fast track vote this year for political reasons. White House press secretary Mike McCurry quipped that it is "probably more political mischief than commitment to free trade." Commerce Secretary William Daley complained that the push for a vote is "a blatant sort of political move to embarrass the President."

The future of the Committee-passed trade package that includes fast track is uncertain. In the Senate, procedural maneuvers could delay a vote on the legislation and could ultimately derail it. On the House side of the Capitol, there is no evidence yet that sufficient numbers of Members have changed their positions on renewing fast-track authority to avoid a repeat of last year's failed effort.