The Japanese market is much more open than most Americans think, and the government is taking steps to reduce the restrictions so more American products can be sold in Japan, according to Shunji Yanai, the Japanese consul in San Francisco.
Yanai, who was in Salt Lake City this week to visit with city and state government officials, said there are no restrictions in Japan on the importation of industrial products, but there are restrictions on certain agricultural products. He said some agricultural import quotas have been liberalized and a panel has been appointed to study how to further lower the restrictions on the agricultural commodities.Japan already is the largest market for the United States, which may help explain why the U.S. trade deficit with that country in 1987 was $60 billion, Yanai said, but several things are being done to lower the trade deficit.
He said 20 percent of American agriculture exports go to Japan, including wheat, soybeans, cotton, grapefruit and oranges. American-made industrial products being sold to Japan include airplanes, airplane parts, super computers and computer software.
Yanai said there are several reasons why the U.S. trade deficit is so large. He said the United States is losing its traditional market in Latin America because of the heavy debt there. When the dollar was over-valued it caused more products to be imported.
Japan hopes to reduce the trade deficit by encouraging its citizens to spend more money - resulting in more purchases from the United States - rather than save it, Yanai said. The Japanese want to reduce the trade deficit (it was $60 billion in 1987) with the United States this year by 10 percent.
In addition to Japanese companies looking to expand into the United States, Yanai said the Japanese also hope to attract American companies. He cited Disneyland, fast-food franchises, banks, insurance companies and big industries as examples.