United States And Japan Agree To Start "Steel Dialogue"


Following the past year's contentious exchanges between Japanese and U.S. officials over Japanese steel exports to the United States, the two countries have agreed to establish a "Steel Dialogue." This "Dialogue" is modeled on other bilateral dialogues (such as autos/auto parts and flat glass) established by Japan and the United States. It will feature regular meetings at the vice-ministerial and working group levels. The first working group meetings are expected to start later this month.

The parties issued a Joint Statement on September 27 announcing the Steel Dialogue. However, soon after that "joint" statement was released, the parties began disputing the purpose and scope of the "Dialogue." The United States claims that the bilateral forum should aim to resolve problems relating to Japanese overcapacity in the steel industry. Meanwhile, Japanese officials have asserted that the purpose is simply to provide a forum to review, not resolve, issues concerning steel.

While Japan agreed to enter this "Dialogue," at the same time it faces growing pressure from the Japanese steel industry to bring a WTO challenge against recent U.S. antidumping determinations concerning Japanese steel exports to the United States. At present, Japanese officials have indicated that they are considering taking such action at the WTO.

  • KAORU UMINO ELECTED PARTNER IN TOKYO
    • Tokyo-based Kaoru Umino has been elected to the PHJ&W partnership. Kaoru becomes the third resident partner in our Tokyo office, which now is composed of nine lawyers. Kaoru has been Of Counsel to the Firm for the past two years.

      Our Washington D.C.-based International Trade Group works closely with our Tokyo office on trade matters for Japanese clients, for joint ventures between U.S. and Japanese entities, and for U.S. clients interested in the Japanese market. Kaoru Umino's special expertise in dealing with multilateral financial institutions -- such as JEXIM, World Bank agencies, U.S. Ex-Im Bank, and similar financing sources -- fits naturally with our Washington focus on cross-border trade, investment, and technology sharing.

      Kaoru represents a number of investment banks acting as managers in assets securitization transactions, and recently completed the first rated commercial mortgage-backed securities transaction in Japan. She also has represented JEXIM in a number of high-profile international financing assignments. As part of the Firm's Corporate Finance, Project Finance, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America practice groups, she works closely with our Capital Markets practices in New York, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Atlanta, as well as with our Washington teams.

      Kaoru was born and raised in Japan. She obtained a B.A. from Bowdoin College in the United States, where she was summa cum laude, and her law degree is from Columbia University in New York.

JAPAN AND U.S. DIFFER ON AGENDA FOR WTO MILLENIUM ROUND

With less than two months remaining before the WTO's Seattle Ministerial meeting, which will kick-off the WTO's Millennium Round negotiations, the United States and Japan continue to differ on the agenda for these talks. The United States maintains that the only services and agriculture should be included in the negotiations, while Japan - along with the European Union - has pressed for a broader agenda that would add investment and competition issues.

The U.S.-Japan agenda dispute primarily concerns the possible inclusion of competition law, which would provide both Japan and the European Union a means to press the United States on its antidumping and countervailing duty laws. The recent use by the U.S. steel industry of the U.S. antidumping laws against Japanese steel exports to the United States has raised the profile of this issue in both Japan and the United States.

This ongoing rift between the United States and Japan is delaying final preparation by WTO officials of a consensus ministerial declaration for the Seattle Ministerial, which is scheduled to begin at the end of November. WTO officials are presently attempting to craft such a declaration but are facing difficulties in light of the agenda dispute.

WIN IN ANTIDUMPING CASE BECOMES FINAL

The PHJ&W win on behalf of client Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd in the Aperture Masks from Japan antidumping case has become final, with the decision of petitioner BMC Inc. not to challenge the ruling of the International Trade Commission terminating the case at the preliminary injury stage.

The dumping petition was brought by the last U.S.-based producer of aperture masks, which are used in the production of color television and computer monitor display tubes. Working with counsel for two other Japanese producers, the PHJ&W-DNP team gathered favorable testimony from the U.S. tube manufacturers that demonstrated that Japanese sources were not causing prices to fall or taking market share from the petitioner. The result was a four to two negative preliminary injury determination by the ITC, which ended the case before any Commerce Department investigation of Japanese pricing and production costs could be launched.

LOEB REAPPOINTED AS SECRETARY TO ABA INTERNATIONAL SECTION

Hamilton Loeb, who heads the PHJ&W International Trade practice, has been reappointed for another year as Secretary of the American Bar Association's Section on International Law and Practice. He is one of the five officers of the Section, which has total membership in excess of 12,000 in the United States and abroad. He also continues to serve on the Section Council, its governing body. Previously he chaired the Section's International Trade Committee, the committee responsible for developing ABA positions on trade agreements, changes to the trade statutes, and issues related to the practice of trade law.

In addition to his duties as Secretary, Ham (using his expertise in U.S. trade sanctions and procedures at Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control) has taken responsibility for preparing and obtaining approval from OFAC for a proposed mission to Cuba by the ABA. The ABA mission will participate in a conference of Ibero-American bar associations in Havana, and will meet with counterpart Cuban organizations representing lawyers and legal interests.

NEW ASSOCIATE WITH JAPAN BACKGROUND JOINS D.C. OFFICE

The Washington office of PHJ&W is pleased to announce the addition of Christopher T. Cloutier to its legal staff, effective this month. Chris is a Japan specialist and a recent graduate of the George Washington University Law School.

As a college student, Chris had the honor of being selected for a full scholarship from the Japanese Ministry of Education to study at Kyushu University (Kyudai), one of the seven national universities, located in the southern city of Fukuoka. At Kyudai, he studied law, politics, economics and culture and was a member of the Kendo (Japanese-style fencing) team. He maintains close ties with university officials and was recently invited to speak in Fukuoka on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of Kyudai's foreign student exchange program.

While in law school, Chris served as Law Clerk to the Vice President of the United States, Albert Gore. In December, 1988 he was afforded the opportunity to travel with the Vice President to Kyoto as part of the White House delegation to the United Nations Conference on the Environment. Shortly thereafter, he returned to Tokyo to complete his second year of law school at Temple University Law School Japan.

Chris speaks and reads Japanese, and is eager to join the PHJ&W trade team.


FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT:

HAMILTON LOEB or SCOTT FLICKER IN
OUR WASHINGTON, D.C. OFFICE:

fax: 202-508-9700
phone: 202-508-9500


Japan - U.S. Trade ReportFAX is published solely for the interest of friends and clients of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP and should in no way be relied upon or construed as legal advice. For specific information on recent developments or particular factual situations, the opinion of legal counsel should be sought. Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP is a limited liability law partnership including professional corporations.