WASHINGTON-Recent trade deficit figures should serve as ``a wake-up call'' to Japan to open its markets to U.S. auto and auto parts makers, according to the president of the American Automobile Manufacturers Association. ``U.S. auto makers have good products which sell well all over the world, with one exception-Japan,'' Andrew H. Card Jr. said at a Jan. 19 press conference. ``Japanese consumers deserve to have the same choices American consumers have.''
November 1993 figures from the U.S. Commerce Department show the U.S. trade deficit with Japan as $5.7 billion-more than 20 percent higher than the November 1992 numbers, according to Mr. Card. For January through November 1993, the total deficit was $54 billion, of which 60 percent was auto-related.
``That's only $2 billion less than the $56 billion reported in 1987, the record deficit year,'' he said. ``And we still have the December figures to go.''
A joint Japanese-U.S. government report on the two nations' motor vehicle industries will soon be released, and Mr. Card expects it to conclude that a variety of factors-especially a closed distribution system-make it nearly impossible for non-Japanese manufacturers to enter the Japanese automotive market.
``American companies service 0.5 percent of the Japanese market,'' he said. ``Every other motor vehicle market in the world is serviced 25 to 30 percent by imports as part of a baseline. This demonstrates a structural problem in the Japanese auto market.''
The Clinton administration has reached a crucial stage in its trade talks with Japan, Mr. Card said. It should stand firm in support of U.S. auto and auto parts makers.
``It is absolutely essential that these...talks result in meaningful access to dealer networks for U.S. autos and auto parts in Japan, as well as access for U.S. parts makers to transplant facilities built by Japanese auto makers in the U.S.,'' he said.