There have been gas wars.

And there is plenty of competition to sell groceries.Now come white pages wars and yellow pages wars.

Regional Telephone Directories, Tacoma, Wash., independent publisher of telephone directories, has leased space at the International Center and beginning in autumn 1989 will publish white pages and yellow pages in direct competition with the directories published and distributed annually by US WEST Direct.

Between now and the publishing date (about the same time as US WEST Direct's white and yellow pages) the company will hire between 50 and 60 sales representatives to sell advertisements in the directories, according to Michael Lambert, one of three sales representatives who moved to Salt Lake City from Tacoma.

Herein lies the competition. Lambert said his advertisers will pay 50 percent less for their advertisements than US WEST Direct charges. The company will publish directories for the Salt Lake City, Provo and Ogden areas, and each home and business will get free white and yellow pages.

RTD publishes and distributes directories in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Alaska. Company officials selected Utah for expansion mainly because of the state's "highly trained and productive workforce," said Leonard Langley, chief executive officer.

Rick Thrasher, president and chief executive officer of the Utah Economic Development Corp., an organization attempting to attract business to the state, welcomed RTD to the area. "We are pleased that Regional Telephone Directories has selected Utah," he said.

Lambert said his directories will contain community information such as ZIP codes by street addresses.

Scott Bringhurst, sales director for US WEST Direct, said his company has no connection with RTD.