U.S. TO PROBE UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES AGAINST KODAK

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Just days afternegotiating a truce in a bitter trade war with Japan over autos, the Clinton Administration has launched a major investigation into charges by Kodak that Japan is using unfair trade practices to strangle its sales there. "It is critical that U.S. firms achieve full access to Japan's market, a market roughly comparable in size to that of the United States," Trade Representative Mickey Kantor said today. Kodak has exhaustively documented its allegations that Japanese film giant Fuji owns or controls most of the film distribution networks in Japan and has limited Kodak to a market share of less than 10 percent. "The irony here," saysTIME's William McWhirter, "is that while Kodak has a much clearer case than the U.S. automakers did, it is not likely to get much help from the U.S. government, despite this investigation. The U.S. used up a lot of ammunition in the recent trade battle. It is not going to threaten sanctions again, or whip up public support for another big battle. The best thing Kodak has going for it right now is its chief, George Fisher. When he headed Motorola, he was extremely aggressive in breaking into Japanese markets against much tougher odds. He knows the players, and the rules."