Fujifilm's views on Kodak's procedure under the section 301 petition
FUJIFILM CONFIDENT OF VINDICATION BY WTO DISPUTE PANEL PROCESS (Released from Fujifilm New York)
ELMSFORD, N.Y., August 13, 1996 --"For more than a year, Fujifilm has been recommending that the film dispute be submitted to a neutral, non-political fact-finding body," Osamu "Sam"Inoue, president of Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc., said today in reacting to the United States government's decision to ask for a World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel to review U.S. claims about Japan's consumer photographic market. "We look forward to objective discussions based on the facts," Inoue said.
"This is the beginning of the end for Kodak's attempt to use the U.S. government to make up for its mistakes in Japan," Inoue said. "The U.S. government's case is built on the claims that Kodak made to USTR in the Section 301 case last year. Fujifilm refuted every one of those claims with facts that, unlike Kodak's allegations, can be verified. Once an objective WTO panel has a chance to review this case, we are confident that Fujifilm's position will be vindicated."
In May 1995, Eastman Kodak Co. filed a Section 301 case with the U.S. Trade Representative, seeking USTR's help in increasing Kodak's market share in Japan. Kodak claimed restrictive market practices in Japan that were "tolerated" by the Japanese government. The Japanese government responded by noting that Kodak had failed to bring any case before the appropriate Japanese competition authority, the Japan Fair Trade Commission, that this was essentially a dispute between two global competitors, with no government-to-government issues for negotiation and that if there were some violation of trade rules, the U.S. should pursue it under the new rules of international trade by bringing it to the WTO. Last month, over a year after its original petition, at the insistence of USTR, Kodak finally asked the JFTC to examine its claims.
After a year of aggressive lobbying by Kodak in an effort to convince U.S. decision makers and opinion leaders to force unwarranted concessions for Kodak, USTR decided to take the entire case to the WTO. The Government of Japan agreed to a US request for consultations in June but has indicated that the U.S. government failed to present a clear explanation of how Japan's government actions have been inconsistent with WTO rules. Calling for a dispute settlement panel is the next procedural step in the WTO review. The dispute resolution process will take a number of months.
"As we have said repeatedly, Kodak should stop trying to use the U.S. government to help it compete in Japan, " Mr. Inoue concluded. "Fujifilm is ready to put its products and services up against Kodak, without government favoritism, in Japan, the United States and everywhere else in the world. Once the WTO dispute settlement panel is finished, Kodak will have to do just that. The day cannot come to soon for Fujifilm."
Thomas H. Shay
Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc.