Amadeusz Juskowiak

Japan moves to tighten chipexport curbs

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry MITI acted to tighten restrictions on microchip exports to countries other than the US To preserve a USJapan pact on semiconductor trade but major Japanese chipmakers doubt its usefulness

A MITI spokesman said his ministry had asked chipmakers to issue certificates to specified trading houses stating they are authorised exporters

Trading houses applying for a MITI export licence will be required to show such a certificate but those without it will not automatically be denied licences he said

But some industry officials predicted any government measures were likely to have limited effect as long as the world semiconductor market remained weak

US Government and industry officials have complained repeatedly that Japanese chipmakers continue to sell at below cost to third countries despite the July agreement

Japanese firms and officials in turn argue the flow of cheap chips to third countries is due to greymarket sales by thirdparty brokers who seek to profit from the gap between low prices in Japan and higher prices based on production costs and set for Japanese makers under the agreement

The MITI spokesman said If the percentage of grey market is increasing for one specific company it suggests they are distributing their products through their sales network knowing they will be exported by some means In that case we will ask them what they are doing to reduce the figure

MITI earlier asked makers to cut output of certain chips by 10 pct in firstquarter 1987 spokesmen for the firms said

But they doubt the usefulness of the latest move As long as there is a gap between prices set under the pact and market prices there will be people who want to exploit the gap to make money a Hitachi Ltd HITT spokesman said