January 14, 2000
Further Information Please Contact:
Daniel Cruise or Curt Cultice (202-482-3809)
Secretary Aaron Urges Japan to Take
Further Action on Public Construction
Los Angeles, California
Late Thursday, the U.S. told Japan more needed to be done to open
its public construction market to U.S. firms. U.S. Under Secretary
of Commerce for International Trade, David L. Aaron and Japanese
Foreign Ministry Director-General, Shotaro Oshima both participated
in the first-ever high-level 'out of cycle' review of the U.S.-Japan
public works agreements. At the conclusion of the talks Aaron
said that while some progress was made, much remained to be done.
On a positive note both sides agreed to continue
the US-Japan Construction Cooperation Forum. The first forum in
October began the process of promoting more joint ventures between
U.S. and Japanese companies. Japan also agreed to review bidding
criteria which have historically limited U.S. access to its market.
"These are positive but small steps," Aaron said.
"I am eager to see more results emerge from the Construction Cooperation
Forum process," he added.
Aaron pointed out that last year American companies
were only awarded $50 million (0.02%) worth of contracts in Japan's
$250 billion public works market. And so far this year, U.S. firms
have been awarded a mere 15 design/consulting and construction
contracts valued at only $40 million.
"I am withholding final judgment until we see the
results for the entire Japanese fiscal year which ends in March,"Aaron
said. "I, once again, urged my Japanese counterparts to award
more design/consulting and construction contracts to U.S. firms,"
Aaron also called for the elimination of serious
restrictions limiting the ability of U.S. firms to enter into
joint ventures. This practice has been keeping U.S. firms from
participating in numerous contracts.
"The bottom line remains that, proportionally, Japanese
firms do twelve times as much public construction business in
the United States as U.S. firms do in Japan even though U.S. firms
are the most competitive in the world. This is obviously unsatisfactory
and has to change," Aaron concluded.